English Language Arts

7 Elements of Procedural Writing

What does fall, ooey-gooey s’mores, and an old yellow dog have in common? It encapsulates my sixth-grade English lesson plans for this past week, which were all about procedural writing. 

Procedural writing is one of the most widely read texts that adults and students alike use and will use in their day-to-day lives. From recipes to instructions, how-to guides, and rules, procedural writing is all around us.

7 Elements of Procedural Writing

Procedural writing simply means informational writing that demonstrates how to do something in a step-by-step way. Kids are already very familiar with procedural writing by helping family members cook by using recipes, figuring out how a toy works using instructions, and learning classroom rules. Therefore, procedural writing makes for a friendly and non-intimidating writing piece for students, as well. 

This past week, my sixth graders learned all about procedural writing and even wrote their own how-to guide. We read a wonderful picture book, utilized our current novel, and even ate a yummy fall snack to further emphasize this type of informational writing. 

Procedural Writing Lesson: Step 1

To start off, we discussed how procedural writing is something students know all about. We activated prior knowledge by going through various examples students are familiar with, such as various recipes and instruction manuals.

Procedural Writing Lesson: Step 2

Next, we read the book More and More Microwave S’mores (How to Goodness) by Tami Parker. 

Check out her book here OR download it FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Yes, the author is my mom!!

Procedural Writing Lesson: Step 3

While reading this adorable and simple procedural writing picture book, we examined it for tips on how to write our own procedural writing. As we read page-by-page, the students noticed the following elements:

7 Elements of Procedural Writing

  • A goal or purpose. In this case it was: how to make s’mores using the microwave.
  • Transition words were used such as first, next, and last.
  • Instructions normally started off with a “Step 1” or “Step 2.”
  • Instructions were in perfect sequence. 
  • Important vocabulary was explained and emphasized. 
  • There were a lot of details! From making sure we placed the plate in the microwave to also making sure to lay a paper towel on the plate first, not one detail was left out!
  • Lots of adjectives were used to describe those ooey, gooey s’mores!

Procedural Writing Lesson: Step 4

After reading all about how to make some delicious s’mores, our tummies were rumbling and we had a better idea of how to tackle our own procedural writing. We went back over the seven elements and made a list of various transition words we saw and could use in our own writing. 

Procedural Writing Lesson: Step 5

Then, I walked my students step-by-step through my own example of procedural writing using the seven elements above. I educated students all about the southern delicacy of a mayonnaise and banana sandwich and how to make this food, step-by-step. I grossed them out but definitely got their attention. 

Procedural Writing Lesson: Step 5

Procedural Writing Lesson: Step 6

We utilized our seven elements of procedural writing to then tackle an assignment from our current novel.

We are reading Old Yeller by Fred Gipson, and in the book, there are many examples of procedural writing. From how Mama makes soap to how Travis hunts squirrels, Old Yeller makes for a wonderful mentor text to learn procedural writing. I had students choose a how-to example from the novel and rewrite it in their own words, using the seven elements of procedural writing above. 

If you are interested in the Old Yeller procedural writing assignment, please check out the unit here!

 Old Yeller Procedural Writing
Grab your unit today!

Even if you are not currently reading this particular novel, students could use Old Yeller as a mentor text to learn procedural writing. 

  • Chapter 1 of Old Yeller explains how Mama made soap.
  • Chapter 5 explains how the main character, Travis, splits logs.
  • Chapter 6 explains how Travis caught squirrels.
  • Chapter 7 explains how Travis milked an unfriendly cow. 
  • Chapter 9 explains how Travis marked hogs. 
  • Chapter 11 explains how Mama sutured Old Yeller’s wounds.

I also challenge you to look through your current read-aloud or novel study to see if you could use it as a mentor text for procedural writing!

Procedural Writing Lesson: Step 7

Once students summarized and practiced procedural writing using the mentor text of Old Yeller, they then completed their own example using the seven elements.

Some students wrote about how to make grilled cheese sandwiches or how to put a saddle on a horse. Others wrote about how to play a certain game or how to make a particular craft. Their writing pieces were super informative. I gave students an opportunity to share their writing pieces with the class and we all learned a little something that day, including some of the students’ favorite food concoctions like bananas with applesauce. Yummy!

Procedural Writing Lesson: Step 7

Procedural Writing Lesson: Step 8

Lastly, to wrap up this fun and simple writing mini-unit, we then re-read our More and More Microwave S’mores (How to Goodness and enjoyed our very own microwave s’mores. We finished off the week with this awesome treat. 

If you are interested in incorporating this adorable picture book into a mini-unit of its own, we have it ready for you. 

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 to show them what is expected as they create their own procedural writing papers.

Also included with this PowerPoint / PDF is a printable graphic organizer, along with writing papers for your students to use to create their rough draft, and then more writing papers to create their own published book.

We also have a newly released S’mores Bulletin Board that you could even pop those published procedural writing books on! Plus, it comes with some adorable graham cracker marshmallow writing papers, along with a Google slide to share with your students. Check that out here. 

Conclusion:

Procedural writing is an informative genre that students are familiar with already and therefore, can make for a fun and non-intimidating writing assignment. By incorporating prior knowledge of procedural writing, analyzing a how-to-make s’mores picture book, and mentor text of Old Yeller, students were able to summarize examples and then adequately write their own procedural writing published work. This may just be the perfect mini-unit to close out fall, especially with those ooey-gooey s’mores treats!  

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