Your family will literally have a ball with this fun activity! Host a royal dress up ball and add pizzazz to practicing etiquette from “How do you do?” to “Please and thank you.” Your child will be equal to any social situation when she's learned how to introduce herself, use proper table manners, and how to thank her hostess for a lovely evening. Before the carriage can turn back into a pumpkin, your prince or princess will have manners that even the queen will approve of!
What You Do:
- Create an invitation for your child by writing with markers on a sheet of construction paper: “[Prince or Princess and your child’s name] is hereby invited to attend a Royal Ball.” Add the date, time and a sparkly border with glitter and glue.
- Read the invitation together and talk about expected behavior at a ball. You may want to share a book on etiquette for children. The Berenstain Bears Forget their Manners by Stan and Jan Berenstain is a great choice for your first grader. Emily Post’s the Guide to Good Manners for Kids by Peggy Post and Cindy Post Senning is a wonderful reference guide for parents and for older children.
- The night of the ball, everyone gets dressed up with crowns and costume jewelry.
- Begin with introductions and greetings. Talk about being introduced to an adult and to another child. The younger person is always introduced to the older person first. For example: “Mom, this is my friend, Jane.” (Hint: “How do you do?” is the proper response when introduced to an adult.)
- Proceed into dinner where everyone is expected to use their best table manners. Use fancy dishes to make the occasion extra special.
- With another adult or an older child acting as your partner, put on a demonstration of bad manners. For example, your partner reaches across the table for a dish on the far side. Your reaction should be exaggerated: a shocked look and an “Oh no! Royalty does not grab for the things they want.” Then look at your first grader as though to say, “Can you believe this behavior?”
- Proceed to demonstrate the correct behavior and give an explanation. “If you want an item on the table that is not right next to you, say to the person who is sitting closest to the item, ‘Will you please pass that dish to me?’”
- Another common mistake children make at the table is leaning over and shoveling food into their mouths. Imagine your first grader’s delight if Dad demonstrates this behavior and Mom corrects the “king!”
- Talk about acceptable dinner table conversation. (Hint: The way your child’s friend looked at lunch when milk came out of his nose does not fit into this category.)
- Conversation should be the only noise at the table! No burping or slurping, please!
- If your first grader happens to commit a table manners’ infraction, she should receive the same exaggerated reaction and correction.
- After dinner it's time to dance- classical music will lend a touch of grace to your evening.
- The boy is usually the one to ask the girl to dance. However, there's no reason why a girl shouldn’t be the one to ask! A polite, “Would you like to dance?” is the best way.
- It's acceptable to decline to dance by saying, “No, thank you. I’m tired right now.” However, you shouldn't dance with anyone else until a reasonable amount of time has passed and you've become rested again.
- At the end of the evening, your prince or princess should thank the hostess for a nice time.
The best rule of manners children can learn is kindness. If your child knows how to make everyone around her feel comfortable and at ease, she will be a welcome guest wherever she goes!
Cailín M. Garfunkel holds a BA in English Literature and Elementary Education. She is an academic writer whose articles and lesson plans cover a range of topics for Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade.