Functional Text Activities for Middle School

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.

They may not realize it, but students engage with functional text quite regularly. Check out these activities to help students learn the ins and outs of functional text, how to decipher it, and even how to create their own.

Functional Text Activities

When students see the term ''functional text'' written on the board, they may shudder and assume that it's going to be quite a boring class period. Not so! Providing students with engaging, fun ways to interact with functional text is important because it allows them to recognize the purpose it serves in their everyday lives. These activities allow students to read, apply, and create meaningful functional texts.

Game Play


  • Decks of cards or board games (one per team)
  • Timer

Activity Directions

Video games are a huge part of most students' lives, but they may not have much experience with board or card games. Start this team activity by asking if students play video games, and if so, how they learn to play. Do they engage with the game and figure it out along the way, review the directions provided at the start of the game, or consult a website? Ask if they have played card or board games, and how their learning strategy differs between the two. Note the importance of following the directions when playing a board or card game. Reading the directions is unavoidable in most cases.

Group students into teams. Provide each team with a set of cards or a board game without the directions. Ask them to predict how the game is played based only on the title or game components. Then, provide written directions.

Set a timer for five - ten minutes. Require that students read the directions until the timer goes off. If they are not done reading, they should read the sections necessary to begin play and read the rest as they go along. For example, in the game of Life, the directions related to retirement are not essential until the end.

Before game play begins, ask students to compare what they thought before reading the directions to what they know now. Give students time to play the game. At the end, ask students to discuss the following questions:

  • Could you have played the game without the directions? Why or why not?
  • How might the game have been different if you didn't read the directions?
  • Did you refer to the directions throughout the game? Why or why not?
  • What parts of the directions helped you skim through the information? (headings, sections, bullets or numbering)
  • What parts of the directions helped you understand? (examples, illustrations)

Movie Reviews


  • Printed or online movie reviews
  • Movie checklist

Activity Directions

Students consume media on a daily basis. It's important for them to be cautious and informed media users. Before the activity, find a safe website for students to explore movie options or print out some movie reviews. Create a checklist including some considerations when selecting a movie, such as star rating, subject matter, actors, style, and special effects. Leave a few lines empty so students can add their own criteria, if they choose.

Start this activity by asking students if they've seen any good movies lately. If so, ask guiding questions.

  • How did they select the movie?
  • Why did they think it would be enjoyable?
  • Were their initial thoughts correct?

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