Learning and practicing good manners can be difficult for young children, especially if the expectations are different for different places. A lesson on the book “The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners” is a great tool for helping students identify the effects of forgetting those manners, while entertaining them with the adventures of familiar and well-loved characters.
- Students will differentiate between “good” and “bad” manners.
- Students will understand that behaviors have effects and consequences.
- Students will design a classroom plan that identifies and promotes positive classroom behavior through the use of good manners.
Learning Activities — Group Learning
Discuss the following questions with your students:
- What are “manners”?
- What are some examples of good manners? Or bad manners?
- What might happen if we all forgot to use our good manners one day?
Read the book with the students. Discuss the bad manners and good manners demonstrated by the characters. Talk about how each affected the environment in the home and the way the family got along with each other.
Talk with students about Mom’s plan. Brainstorm ideas for a classroom plan. Be sure that the plan includes both desired behaviors with positive consequences for showing those, as well as bad manners to be avoided, along with the negative consequences for displaying them. Encourage students to make the consequences that follow the actions naturally. For example, if one of the undesirable actions is writing on a piece of furniture, the guilty party might be required to clean all the desks during recess. The plan should be the ideas of the students, as much as possible; however, if there are certain non-negotiable behaviors that you absolutely MUST have included, explain them to the students, along with the reasons you feel they need to be a part of the plan. Allow the class to determine the consequences to associate with those (minimal) items.
Allow students to make and decorate a poster containing their plan. Talk about how the class will evaluate the success of the plan or how they will determine if modifications are necessary.
In small groups, allow students to brainstorm ideas for helping each other show their good manners in situations in which it might be difficult to remember them. Encourage them to consider cue words or hand signs, as well as ways to remember their good manners when there is no one else around to help them recall them.
Learning Activities — Individual Practice
Provide students with a large red square of construction paper and a large green one. Students should glue their squares onto a larger piece of manila or construction paper and fold the paper like a book, with the colored squares inside.
On the red square, ask students to record the examples of bad manners they remember from the book. Make the book available, in case someone needs to refresh his or her memory. On the green square, ask students to record the examples of good behavior from the book.
On the back of the manila paper, assist students in writing compare/contrast sentences or paragraphs in which they use the information they wrote on the squares. For students without significant experience, provide a stem for them to use in writing. For example, you might have them write, “The Berenstain Bears showed bad manners when they _____, but they showed good manners when they _____.”
On the front of their “books,” students may create cover art to explain what the book is about.
With this lesson you can assist your students with developing a personal plan for treating others well, which may just follow Mom’s lead in making the classroom a more pleasant place for everyone.