Lesson plan

Giving Directions: Tell Me How

Students will have fun engaging in activities that develop their ability to write sequential step-by-step directions. This lesson helps young learners with being detailed and using transition words in their writing.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
  • Students will be able to successfully write sequential step-by step directions that include an introduction and conclusion.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students that today, they will be learning how to write directions that are easy to follow.
  • Ask for two volunteers to come up to the front of the class. One person will give directions while the other person follows the directions. The person following the directions will be drawing on the whiteboard with a marker.
  • Direct the person that is drawing to face the whiteboard, with their back to the person giving directions. Explain that the person giving directions will not be allowed to turn around and view what the person following directions is drawing.
  • Write on a piece of paper: Give directions to draw a smiling face.
  • Show the paper to the person giving directions so the one drawing will not have any clues about what he will be drawing.
  • Begin the activity. Instruct the other students to stay quiet and not give any coaching with the directions. When the directions are done being given, let the student giving directions turn around and look at the results of his directions. (It is usually very surprising to see the drawing is not like what was originally envisioned.)
  • Discuss with the students how it is not as easy as one may think to give good directions. Stress the importance of using transition words like: first, next, and finally when giving directions. Point out that it is also important to use precise language to explain. This helps us communicate clearly.
(10 minutes)
  • Review transition words that may be used when giving directions, and write the transition words you want students to use on the board for their reference. (e.g., First, Next, Also, etc.)
  • Tell students you will show them an example of how directions can be given with transitions to create a product.
  • Have students take out a pencil and paper, and ask them to follow the following directions: (Give students time to think about each direction and follow it before going to the next step. Repeat each instruction a few times, and display the instructions on the board to support a variety of learners.)

    1. First, I would like you to draw a medium sized rectangle near the bottom of your paper.
    2. Next, on top of your rectangle, draw a triangle that fits exactly on top of your rectangle. The triangle should not be bigger or smaller than your rectangle. The left and right angles of the rectangle should stop at the top left and right top corners of your rectangle.
    3. After you have drawn your triangle, I would like you to draw a small square at the bottom of your rectangle. Additionally, the square should be in the middle of your rectangle, on the bottom line of the rectangle.
  • Ask the students what they have drawn a picture of; hopefully they will have a very simple drawing of a house.
  • Discuss how the directions, language used, and transition words were important to the outcome of the drawing.
  • Identify the transition words you used in your directions.
(15 minutes)
  • Tell students that they will work together as a group to write four steps for putting a letter into an envelope. This should be a whole group activity. Remind students to use transition words in the directions and to choose their language carefully so their directions are clear.
  • Invite a student to come up to the front of the room, and give them the paper and envelope.
  • Explain that this student will follow the directions as they are given. This provides a visual cue for students to understand if their directions are sequential and accurate.
  • Ask for student volunteers to give directions and write down the different directions as they're given.
  • Discuss and revise directions as needed to successfully complete the task of putting the letter into the envelope.
(20 minutes)
  • Ask students to take out a piece of paper and a pencil.
  • Tell them to write directions for the procedure for visiting the internet, or another familiar task. Remind them to use the transition words you have been working on in class, and emphasize the importance of their clear, precise language choice. Tell them to start out with an introduction describing the task and conclude with a sentence summarizing the task.
  • Share that this will be their exit slip for this session.


  • Give advanced students an alternate activity on their exit slip. Their activity should require a more complex set of directions to complete a task.
  • Require them to write more than five steps and include transition words for every direction.


  • Visual cues can be very helpful for students who are struggling with writing sequential directions that successfully result in a completed task. Ask these students to first draw a simple cartoon of each step in the task. Then, ask them to go back and write a sentence to go with each drawing.
  • Remind them to use transition words to start their sentences.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask students to share their exit tickets with a partner, and observe the clarity of the language they use and their directions as a whole. Have partners give feedback to each other, and allow learners to make any changes to their work.
  • Use students’ exit tickets to assess their mastery of giving and following directions.
  • Provide feedback on the exit slips and return them to students. Students that do not show proficiency on their exit slips should work in a small group with you. Help them revise their exit slips.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask for student volunteers to come up and read the directions on their exit slip.
  • Instruct learners to turn and talk to a partner about the following questions:
    • Why are transition words important when giving directions?
    • Why is your word choice important when giving directions?
    • What is something you learned today that you did not know before?
  • Have the class share out what they discussed in partnerships.

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