17 October 2012

How-To Writing

We wrote our How-To's at the very beginning of the year.  It has just taken me a really long time to get around to posting it.  How-To Writing is part of the Lucy Calkin's Units of Study for Primary Writing.  She elaborates about How-to writing in her Nonfiction Writing Unit.  If you are a K-2 teacher looking for fantastic minilessons for writing, then her books are a must read.

I begin my unit on How-To's by explaining that in order to write a How-To, they must be an expert at whatever it is they choose to write about.  I always share my own personal experiences to model that writing has to be about things that come from the heart.  I explain how I am an expert at making banana splits because my very first job was working for Dairy Queen. I share some fun stories about my experiences there and then explain that before we can write a how-to, we must understand the steps to writing a  How-To.  Basically a How-To write a How-To.

After discussing the components of a How-To using the chart above, I then share my own How-To.  My How-To is created on chart paper, so it's large enough for everyone to see.  My example is below.  I have a fantastic student teacher this year, who is also a great artist.  She made me a new chart this year, that turned out super cute.

We talk about each step and I point out that each step is numbered and begins with transition words.  While we go over each of the steps, I have my students copy my example and follow along with me.  I always explain that they are learning how to make a banana split from my How-To.  By the time they finish this lesson, they will be well on their way to being an expert too.

 After we finish working on the How-To together, then they create a cover for their How-To.  I have patterns for students to color to create a cute banana split for the cover. 


 After we finish our banana split How-To's, then they are ready to start choosing topics that they are experts at.  I have blank How-To pages for them to write their own How-To's.

In the past, I've made banana splits in class, and then had students go back and write the steps on their own.  I chose to have them write my steps this year, so that they would have a really clear understanding of How-To's before they undertook the task of writing a How-To independently.

If you are interested in this How-To Writing Pack, you can get it in my Teacher Store for $2.50.  It includes the black lines for the How-To Steps.  I simply ran them off on neon card stock.  It also includes the Banana Split How-To paper, the open-ended How-To paper, and the patterns to create the banana split for the cover.  Click on the image below to head on over to my store.



  1. Love this! I'm glad you shared this idea before I got to procedural writing in my class. :) Kids sure enjoy writing about food...especially ice cream!

    Mrs. Heeren's Happenings

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