7 DIY Etiquette Activities to Prepare Your Child for Back to School


Cultivate Kindness.

There are many ways to teach kindness. A good way to start is by explaining the correlation with being kind and a concern for others. First gather your family and pass around a raw egg making your circle larger and larger each passing. Once the egg finally cracks, explain that we are similar to eggs and if not treated carefully we can be hurt both physically and emotionally. Next boil eggs and decorate them with eyes, smiles and hair. Have your kids name the eggs and challenge them to carry the hardboiled eggs around for one week without any cracks to help reinforce that we should treat others at least as good as we treat an egg.

Introduce Mindfulness

Another way we can show concern for others is to be mindful of their needs by playing a game of Manners JENGA  To play this game take each piece of JENGA block and write out a scenario that prompts your child to consider what this individual may need. For example: Scenario: The iPad battery is low. Answer: It needs to be charged. Scenario: The dog is pacing back and forth in front of the door. Answer: The dog needs to be walked. Scenario: A new family moves into your neighborhood. Answer: New friends/house warming gift. I also like to include pieces that say ‘Do 5 push ups or 10 jumping jacks’ to keep the game active.

Exercise Forgiveness

Living in the past and not letting go of anger can have serious effects on our mental and physical health. One way to teach forgiveness by having your kids play a game similar to hot potato. When the music stops whoever is holding the ‘potato’ describes a time they felt either sad, mad or frustrated and then sits down inside of a large blanket. Once all three types of emotional baggage inside the blanket, demonstrate the difficulty in attempting to drag this extra weight around the house. As each person forgives and gets up from the blanket, the blanket becomes light again proving the importance of letting go of the unnecessary weight of a grudge.

Practice Handshaking

A handshake in a nonverbal language that reflects our levels of competency, trustworthiness and confidence.  You can make teaching handshaking fun by making your own bag of bad handshakes. Inside the bag put zip locked bags of goldfish (the dead fish handshake), rocks (the bone crusher handshake), spaghetti (the spaghetti handshake), feathers (the loosey goosey handshake), googly eyes (the awkward eye contact handshake), and water (the sweaty handshake). Once your child picks out a bag, explain what type of handshake each item represents and then have them demonstrate the different motions and feelings of each handshake.

Make Lasting First Impressions

Who doesn’t like playing dress up? Take a play from THIS guys book and dress up in costume next time you are in charge of car pool. In addition to dressing up, have your child spell out the words first impression with glitter glue. Then ask your child if they can get all of the glue back into the bottle without removing the lid. This activity helps to demonstrate that first impressions can also be lasting impressions.

Improve Table Manners

Just as dinosaurs are extinct so too are there table manners that become no longer acceptable once a child reaches a certain age. One fun way to reinforce these types of table taboos can by making table Dino’s.  Some of the dinosaurs that visit my classes are the Screaming-raptor, Bad-posture-sauras, Open-mouth-rex and Chair-out-taurus. If these dinosaurs seem too complex to recreate, you can also try making fossil cookies or dinosaur tracking art.

Radiate Gratitude 

Psychologist argue that we can not be in state of appreciation and fear, or anxiety at the same time. The first day of school can be scary for both your child and for you. One way to help cope with the stress is to make a list of everything your family is grateful for. You can break this down into categories of people, places and things.  After making a list, cut a paper place to resemble a crown. On each point write out something your child is grateful for and then let your child decorate his/her crown with whatever crafts you see fit.


Classes by Murphy’s Manners are available this Fall at O’Quinn James Island, Buist Academy, Sullivans Island Elementary, Park West Recreation Department, Hazel Parker Recreation, The Darby Building, Charleston Collegiate and Jennie Moore Elementary. For more information please contact Aly Murphy at murphysmanners@gmail.com




About Aly Murphy

Aly Murphy is an international etiquette consultant based in Charleston, SC. She previously lived in Manhattan while she studied the history, social psychology and neuroscience...

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