Students will be able to identify nonfiction how-to books, discuss the ways how-to books are used, apply their knowledge and create a how-to book of their own. Adapted from the how-to unit from the Teachers College Reading & Writing project, this lesson will help you launch a how-to book unit and encourage your students to be both teachers and writers.
- Generate ideas and create a plan sheet for a procedural nonfiction book.
- Write procedural nonfiction book.
- Discuss the importance of procedural nonfiction books.
- Chart paper and markers: Use this for your plan sheet template.
- Multiple procedural nonfiction books to be read before this lesson and all throughout the duration of your How-To unit (See booklist below)
- Plan Sheets: 2 per student
- Pencils, pens and staples
Set Up and Prepare
Explain the difference between fiction and nonfiction books :
- Show multiple examples that the children might find in their homes like science magazines and books, newspapers and picture books.
- Discuss procedural nonfiction books. Be certain to include books that cover various interests, such as; games, repairs, cooking, etc. Inform the children that writers of how-to books are subject matter experts and that everyone is an expert at something. You can make a list of each child's expertise.
- For the actual lesson, create a How-To template on the chart paper to demonstrate how the children should properly use the template to organize their ideas. (See printable)
- Make copies of plan sheets for each child.
Generate and Organize Ideas:
a. Remind the children about your previous discussions. Tell them that they are experts at things and give them a few examples of what this means.
b. Share one thing that you are good at and tell them that you are going to write a book about it. Organize your idea into five parts aloud in front of your students. Walk it across your fingers (each step is a finger). Write the title of your How-to book on your template.
c. Number your first square and begin to sketch your first part. Write a key word underneath the picture and move to the second square and do the second step of your how-to book. Repeat through to the fifth step and show the children that they can add a box manually, if necessary.
d. Ask each child to think about something they do that makes them an expert. Then ask them to turn and share their idea and steps with a friend. Share some ideas with the group.
e. Give children time to organize their ideas, then call each child by name and ask them about their ideas. If a child does not have an idea in mind, ask them to remain on the rug so that you can work together to generate an idea. Ask the rest of the children to begin to sequence their ideas on the plan sheet.
Supporting All Learners
Stronger writers will be able to produce more detailed procedures. Awareness of each writer's capabilities will allow you to direct students to write easier or more challenging work.
- Write It:
- Model how to transfer work from the plan sheet to writing paper. Confer with each child to assess their readiness to move on with the process.
- Model how to add details to drawings, sound out words, use the word wall, and use of writing conventions.
- Publish It:
- Have children put covers on their books, write a title and color the pages of their books.
- Children can write multiple how-to books about their various interests. Depending upon how often your children write, this unit could last 3-6 weeks.
- Try to incorporate and expand the children's awareness of nonfiction procedural texts by reading and following fun procedural texts during other class times. It's easy to find texts that tell you how to make and fly kites, build volcanoes, draw cartoons, fold paper airplanes, make pie crusts, and more.
- Inform parents about the unit and the ideas you're discussing.
- Ask parents to place focus on nonfiction procedural books that they use and will be using at home.
- Inform parents of your celebration (publishing) date, so that they can praise the children's work that same night/morning or invite them to the celebration.
- Have your students successfully generated, organized and written their how-to books?
- What worked and what did not work?
Scholastic publishes several these books that fit right into this unit:
- Tomatoes to Ketchup By Inez Snyder
This is a fun one that you could use in the classroom to make ketchup as a follow-up activity.
- Milk to Ice Cream By Inez Snyder
This is a fun one that you could use in the classroom to make ice cream as a follow-up activity.
- Wax to Crayons By Inez Snyder
This is a fun one that you could use in the classroom to make crayons as a follow-up activity.
- Fruit Salad By Helen Depree
This is a great book for the kids. Short and direct, this writers guides the readerto put a certain number of foods into the salad.
- A Monster Sandwich By Joy Cowley
- Pancakes for Breakfast By Tomie De Paola
- Maisy Makes Gingerbread By Lucy Cousins
Everyone loves Maisy!!! What a mouse and this one is just as fun as the rest. This book has great illustrations and wonderfully descriptive language.
- Benny Bakes A Cake By Eve Rice
- Building A House By Byron Barton
Step by step these builders get the job done.
- Building a House By Paul Stickland
This text displays what labeled pictures look like.
- Bruno, the Tailor By Lars Klinting
This text uses exact sequence language (first, second, next). It is a great example of how organized and precise a writer's language needs to be in order to properly inform and guide a reader.
- Chop, Simmer, Season By Alexa Brandenberg
This text gets five stars from us and not just because we love good food. Brandenberg offers one action word per page to describe how to cook up this fantastic menu.
- Beans to Chocolate By Inez Snyder
We love the language in this book. It is a great one to read prior to any writing lessons. It may be hard to do this activity but fun to read about.
- Observe each student's ability to sequence and organize.
- Review and examine their completed work. Compare their plan sheet with their finished work. Did the children add details that were not on the plan sheet? Were they able to extend themselves and add details within their pictures and words?