Following Written Directions Activities & Games

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Teaching students how to follow directions can seem tedious, but it doesn't have to be! This lesson provides teachers with classroom games and activities designed to teach students how to follow written directions.

Directions to Follow

Accurately following written directions can be beneficial for many reasons. First of all, knowing how to follow directions is the first step to doing something correctly. If students develop direction following skills early on, it will help them both in and out of school. Before using the activities below, have a class discussion about directions. Here are a few questions you can ask your students to get the dialogue going.

  1. What types of information can written instructions give you?
  2. When was the last time you followed written instructions?
  3. What can happen if you ignore written instructions?
  4. What types of things have written instructions?
  5. Have you ever been confused by written instructions?

Read the Map

This is a great teambuilding activity as it requires two students to work together toward a common goal. Begin by dividing students into teams of two. Next, instruct each student in the team to write down directions to a location that their partner is unfamiliar with. For example, he or she could write directions on how to get from the school to his or her home. After the students have completed writing out the directions, they should exchange papers. Next, each student draws a map based on his or her partner's directions. When the maps are complete, the partners should share their maps to check for accuracy.

This activity can easily be adjusted for younger learners. Instead of having students choose their own destination, give each team a copy of a school map and have them describe how to get to from the classroom to specific locations such as the library or cafeteria.

At the end of the activity, asks teams how the written directions affected their map drawing ability. Also, if any teams were way off, talk about why the map ended up looking so different than the written directions described. Have students help one another to improve the written directions. As an extension, teams could work to improve their directions and then exchange their team's directions with another team to determine if their written directions improved.

Invent the Game

This game is ideal for teams of 3-5 students. Begin by asking students to talk about their favorite board or card games. Next, instruct the teams to brainstorm and come up with an original game. After the team has created their game, they need to write out written instructions on how to play it. Finally, have teams exchange instructions and try to play each other's games. Be sure to talk about any difficulties teams experienced because of vague or unclear instructions and discuss how those instructions could be improved.

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