Writing and Following Instructions

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Language Arts, Writing, Writing Process

Grade 5- 8


Getting students to understand the importance of following instructions is not always an easy task, but it is definitely worth the effort. What's the best way to teach such an important skill? To teach this lesson it may simply be better to show than to tell.


Pass out copies of the worksheet on page 74; read the material on this page to the class. Pass out copies of the worksheet on page 75. Follow the directions given for Section A of Part 2 on page 75. When everyone has finished writing instructions for how to put on a jacket, ask for a volunteer to read his or her paper out loud. As the student reads his instructions, try to put on the jacket. The task will be nearly impossible because most students do not even begin with the most basic instruction: pick up the jacket. It is hard to put on something that is not in your hands. After two or three students have read their instructions, discuss what changes are needed for the instructions to be correct.

Now tell the students to work on Section B of the worksheet and to write instructions, for sharpening a pencil. When everyone has finished, ask for a volunteer to go to the pencil sharpener. Next, have someone read his or her instructions. Instructions this time should be more accurate as students should begin to understand the importance of detail when writing directions. Be sure and point out that following and listening to instructions is as important as giving good instructions. Even a good explanation will not work if the other person doesn't pay attention to the details.


  • bring a jacket or coat to class.
  • copies of the activity sheets on pages 74 and 75 (see link to these pages below)

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