Use this free printable banner on your classroom displays to help your children learn about instruction writing. Add your children's own instructions too!
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The following page outlines a variety of activities (relating to the theme "instructions") which can be carried out in the classroom. Before you try them, it might be a good idea to collect a set of instructional texts and resources, such as:
1) Evaluating Instructions - Gather together your collection of instructions, and share them with the children. Ask them to read the instructions and discuss what they are for. They should also evaluate the instructions in terms of ease of use (Are the instructions clear? Would you be able to follow them to achieve the desired outcome?) and presentation (Are the instructions presented well? Is the chosen presentation appropriate? Would you prefer more diagrams or more text?).
2) Adapting Instructions - The children could try and rewrite some of the instructions for other children in the school. The children would have to choose appropriate vocabulary for the level of the intended audience.
3) Sequencing Instructions - Before the lesson, you will need to find suitable instructions, and cut these into sections (you might need to retype some of them). Jumble up the sections, and ask the children to put them into the correct order.
4) George's Marvellous Medicine - After reading this story by Roald Dahl, the children could create some instructions showing how to make the medicine. In the story, George makes four different medicines, so the class could make instructions for one, or for all four (comparing them to see what why the last three did not have the same effect as the original).
5) Making Instructions - The children could choose a topic that they were interested in, and make a set of instructions relating to that topic. For example, if they were interested in animals, they could make some instructions showing how to care for animals properly. If they liked computers, they could explain how to play their favourite computer game. This activity might require some time beforehand for the children to find out more information about their topic.
6) Making More Instructions - This activity links with Design and Technology. If the children have just designed and made a project, they could write some instructions telling others how to make their project, or how to use it properly.
7) Storyboard Instructions - The children can make their instructions using the storyboard format found here (on the R.E. pages). This will encourage them to use text and pictures in their instructions, and to break their instructions down into a number of small steps.
8) Suggested by Susan - I like to have my 4th graders work in teams to write directions on how to get to certain places in the building like the gym, the nurse, last year's classroom etc. I let them go around the building one team at a time. Then they give their directions to another team to follow exactly as they wrote them (even though they know how to get to the places!). They report back as to where they ended up. It really emphasises the need for specific directions. I like to do this as the opening activity so they are focussed on giving the best details they can when they write their own instructions.