Following Verbal Directions Activities & Games

Instructor: Abigail Cook
Do you have trouble getting your students to listen and follow through when you give instructions? This lesson will give you a few ideas to help your students practice following verbal directions.

Following Directions

A typical classroom is fun, noisy, and has a lot going on. With so many children in one place, things can get a little busy. Sometimes the noise and busyness gets distracting for students, and that makes it difficult for them to pay attention to the teacher.

When your students learn to follow instructions, it improves the classroom environment. You may notice the following changes:

  • Transitioning between activities will go more smoothly.
  • You will not have to repeat instructions over and over again.
  • Your classroom will look and feel more organized.
  • You and your students will have more control over their behavior.
  • You will save time as students listen and follow your instructions the first time.

Let's look at some different activities you can use to help your students practice following verbal directions.

Simon Says

Simon Says is a common game that many children already know. The purpose of the game is to listen carefully to the directions and do what you're told. The game goes like this: The teacher explains that they are Simon, and whenever Simon says something, the students must do it. If the teacher says something, but didn't start by saying 'Simon says ...', students should not follow the instructions. You may also choose a student to be Simon.

Here is an example:

Teacher: 'Simon says put your hands on your head.'

Students put their hands on their heads.

Teacher: 'Simon says hop on one foot.'

Students hop on one foot.

Teacher: Put your hands in the air.

Any student who puts their hands in the air is out! The game continues until one person is left. This game will help students practice listening closely to verbal directions.

Worksheet Activities

It could be fun to give students verbal directions to help them color or complete a worksheet. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking. Keep in mind that these ideas would need to be adapted for your students based on age, interests, and abilities.

Ice Cream Cone

Give students a worksheet that has a picture of an ice cream cone with eight scoops of ice cream. Tell them they will color each ice cream scoop by listening to your instructions. You can tell them to color the bottom scoop orange, the top scoop brown, the second scoop green with black polka dots, etc. At the end of the game, have students hold up their papers and look around to see how they did.


Give each student their own small whiteboard and a set of whiteboard markers. This can also be done with crayons and white paper. Give them short, simple instructions for drawing a snowman, but don't tell them ahead of time what they're drawing.

And be specific! For example, 'Draw one large circle on the bottom of the page, draw a smaller circle on top, and an even smaller one at the very top. On the top circle, draw two small circles next to each other, and a triangle below the small circles.' As you add details, some students will probably guess what they're drawing, while others will end up with some silly looking snowmen!

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