Creative Writing, English Language Arts, November Activities, What is Mentor Text

5 Creative Ideas for Teaching Procedural Writing This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, gatherings, and of course, gobbling good grub. November, itself, is a wonderful time to combine the spirit of this memorable holiday with the development of crucial writing skills. This month is an opportune time to explore procedural writing. With Thanksgiving as a backdrop, there are so many delicious moments to utilize procedural writing.

Procedural writing is one of the most widely read texts that adults and students alike use and will continue to use in their day-to-day lives. From recipes to instructions, how-to guides, and rules, procedural writing is all around us. Procedural writing simply means informational writing that demonstrates how to do something step-by-step. Let’s gobble up 5 creative ideas for teaching procedural writing with a Thanksgiving twist!

1. Explore Procedural Writing

Before you task students with choosing a theme for their own procedural writing pieces, allow time to explore specific examples of procedural writing such as recipes, blogs with instructional guides, toy assembling directions, or any other procedural writing examples. Review the differing parts of procedural writing. For instance, recipes need to contain an ingredients list, a step-by-step list of instructions, and important and accurate information including measurements, temperature, and time. Teach students to identify all the details present in procedural writing. Provide them with concrete examples. 

We love the children’s book, More and More Microwave S’mores (How to Goodness) by Tami Parker. This book is a wonderful example of mentor text for procedural writing. 

Grab yours today!

Yes, the author is my mom!

This book is awesome because it’s so easy to demonstrate the step-by-step guide, as well as provide a fun and interactive hands-on lesson and treat. 

For a guide to accompany this book and to walk your students through how to write a procedural writing piece, grab this resource.

Grab yours today!

Product Description:

Our PowerPoint / PDF presentation will walk your students through the procedural writing process that Tami used herself to write her own published book, More and More Microwave S’mores. As your students go through the PowerPoint / PDF instructions, they will see the exact steps she used to write the procedural book. More and More Microwave S’mores is an instructional guide your students can follow as they create their own published work.

*Teach Students What Procedural Writing is NOT

Additionally, teach students what procedural writing is NOT. Give students a set of instructions to complete a task but leave out some crucial details or steps. Some simple ideas include how to fold a paper airplane, how to complete origami, or how to make a simple treat. Ask them to complete the task with the missing instructions to show just how important details really are in procedural writing. On the flip side, give your class an example of wordy instructions that relate to a task they are to complete and discuss how clear and concise language is best in procedural writing. 

Another idea is to have students work together to create their own how-to guide for you to complete, such as how to properly use a yo-yo or make a sandwich. Have students read their instructions aloud while you follow them. They’ll quickly see if they missed any items or important details and they will understand how crucial details are in procedural writing. 

For more information on the exact elements of procedural writing, check out one of our former blog posts:

2. Choose a Thanksgiving Theme

There are oh so many procedural writing prompts that students can choose from that relate to Thanksgiving. From how to roast a turkey to how to make cranberry sauce. From how to create a turkey handcraft to how to set a table. There is a cornucopia of procedural writing prompts to choose from. How to make a pumpkin pie from scratch, how to feed a family a Thanksgiving dinner on a budget, or how to play a Thanksgiving day game of football are other ideas. 

Check out our Thanksgiving Procedural Writing Prompts freebie!

Grab yours today!

You could have students choose any theme or prompt that relates to Thanksgiving. Ask them to choose a prompt that is about something they know how to complete themselves. If students aren’t experts at the prompt they chose, they can complete some research, talk to a family member, and try it out at home while they are writing their how-to guide. 

3. Brainstorming, Planning, & Sequencing

Choose some of the Thanksgiving procedural prompts to discuss in class, asking students to contribute ideas around the topics to create a pool of information. Then, zero in on a theme or prompt to use as an example to model from start to finish on how to write a procedural writing piece. Perhaps you can choose how to make homemade mashed potatoes. Brainstorm and gather ideas and experiences about making mashed potatoes in a collaborative way by whole-class discussion. 

Next, show students how to begin the procedural writing, which includes writing all the ingredients down with their measurements. Discuss how to organize the steps logically and how to use transition words such as first, next, then, and last, to guide the reader through the process. 

Tell students to consider their audience while writing. For instance, if writing instructions for a child, more things might need to be explained. Perhaps you’re writing to someone who has never lived in America and has no idea about Thanksgiving. You’ll want to make sure there is no room for confusion.

4. Descriptive Language

Whether students are writing a recipe, detailing how to set a table, or how to carve a pumpkin, using rich sensory language can bring procedural writing to life. Thanksgiving, after all, is a sensory experience with vibrant colors, delicious tastes and aromas, and the heartwarming emotions of gathering together. Sensory words, adjectives, figurative language, and vivid imagery create a richer reading experience. Show students how to insert descriptive language into their procedural writing. 

Are you searching for a simple way to teach descriptive poetry? Look no further than the Descriptive Poetry Activities! These activities provide clear instructions for teaching descriptive poetry and offer helpful guidelines for students. Just like there are special ingredients that make a yummy pumpkin pie, students will discover the special elements that make a descriptive poem truly delightful!

Descriptive Poetry Activities:

Are you searching for a simple way to teach descriptive poetry? Look no further than the Descriptive Poetry Activities! These activities provide clear instructions for teaching descriptive poetry and offer helpful guidelines for students. Just like there are special ingredients that make a yummy pumpkin pie, students will discover the special elements that make a descriptive poem truly delightful!

Grab yours today!

5. Revising/Editing & Publishing

Once students have written their procedural writing, partner students together to help revise and edit each other’s pieces. Additionally, as the teacher, work one-on-one with students to help catch anything a peer may have missed. 

“Publish” students’ writing pieces in a unique way. Perhaps everyone completed a Thanksgiving recipe, then you can create a collective cookbook. Maybe there are varying Thanksgiving how-to instructions, so you can create a How-To Guide to Thanksgiving in America for people who live outside of the country.

Take the publishing process a step further and turn your classroom into an interactive cooking or crafting workshop, where students bring in supplies to create and present their how-to guides. A Thanksgiving Showcase is another idea. Students read their procedural writing pieces and showcase an example or related item. Next, students can even share any dishes or walk their peers through how to create a craft if possible. Students can feel a sense of accomplishment while they present their procedural writing while learning a plethora of information from other students. 


Teaching Thanksgiving procedural writing can be an educational and enjoyable experience for you and your students. It not only reinforces writing skills but helps celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving by exploring recipes, traditions, or other holiday-related themes. This Thanksgiving, let your students savor the joy of sharing their favorite holiday how-to through the power of the written word. 

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