In Writing Workshop, we are working on How-to books and so far, it’s one of our favorite writing units!
Here are some fun ways to introduce writing How-to Books
- Give directions out of order. Let the kids see how it just doesn’t work that way! Coming to the carpet, cleaning and lining up, getting ready to go home- any of these familiar routines are a perfect opportunity to show why it’s important to give steps in order.
- Ask your students to give you directions to draw a person. They’ll surely start with a circle for the head, but make sure when they tell you to draw the body, you draw it on top of the head! Draw the mouth above the eyes and both the ears on the same side, unless they explicitly direct you where to put them! Great lesson on being specific and detailed.
- Have partners work together to draw a house: One student gives directions while the other draws. Flip over the paper and switch roles, this time drawing a flower!
- Make pudding, then interactively write the steps. I had 4 groups, each with a bowl, measuring cup, pudding box, whisk and 2 cups of milk.
- Make a list of ‘expert’ topics- have kids tell you what they can teach others. If possible, get clipart for each. Whenever a student can’t think of a topic, send them to the list! We made two lists to make sure we have plenty! Be sure to scroll down and grab your FREE anchor chart pieces!
- Act out and practice orally. Kids love performing. Have them choose and act out topics from your list, using imaginary props.
- Make how-to kits for morning tubs or centers! My kids are loving these. They get to act out the steps before writing their books. Simply place a few props in baggies. I found a few kits at the dollar store, but some kits can be made using things you have lying around! Here are some ideas:
- Use the how-to kits as a morning tub. Have kids work with a partner. One gives directions, the other follows. Having a partner to add any missing steps can help strengthen your students’ skills in this genre.
- Color-code your transition words! I didn’t take a picture, but I color-coded my anchor chart to match a traffic light: First, Then, Next, After that, Last, Finally. Kids know they start with the green transition word (First), use orange transition words in the middle, and red (Last, Finally) for the ending.
Resources to help with writing How-to books
These sequencing pages are perfect to use at your writing center! They are differentiated with a picture-word bank and transition word sentence starters. Grab this set from my Sequence and Write pack.
Be sure to read my post on sequencing, as this reading comprehension skill goes well with a how-to writing unit.
With these Hands-on Sequencing pages, students can have time to act out the steps before they begin writing. There are 3 versions included; 4 steps, 3 steps with picture prompts for each step (see photo below), and a no writing version for younger students. There are 12 different topics in the pack to choose from!
Also included in the pack are teacher cards that are perfect for modeling. These can be laminated and used as a center activity as well.
Writing how-to books can be fun for little learners, as well as give them a boost of confidence when they realize they are able to teach others plenty of things!
If you are looking for more ways to engage your emergent writers, read this post: Tips for Helping Emergent Writers
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