It’s important to teach children sequential thinking. We can do this by reading procedural, how-to picture books as mentor texts for thinking and for writing.
What I love about how-to (procedural) writing is the books can be either informational and serious or silly and hilarious.
This list of mentor text children’s books model for students how-to procedural writing. But they’re all fantastic to use as read alouds anytime.
How-To Writing Curriculum Unit
HOW-TO WRITING UNIT OBJECTIVES
- Write directions in a logical sequence.
- Use transition words to help structure and flow.
- Include humor (voice) in a silly how-to essay.
- Draft, revise, edit, and rewrite a final draft.
Ideas to Teach How-to Writing
Mix-Up Craft Directions
Print out the directions to make a craft. Mix them up and try to put them back in order and follow them.
Follow any sequential step by step drawing directions. Then, draw and write your own directions explaining how to draw something.
Read the Mentor Texts
How-To Books to Model Procedural Writing
How to Wash a Wooly Mammoth by Michelle Robinson
If your wooly mammoth needs a bath, this step-by-step guide will tell you everything you need to do to get the mammoth clean. Probably…
How to Teach a Slug to Read by Susan Pearson
If slugs could learn to read, these suggestions would be quite helpful! You’ll label the words on his favorite things, you’d read aloud to him, you’d help him learn the letter sounds, and you’d even make vocabulary lists. Delightful!
How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan
Part of a How-to series by the same author, this funny story shares a child’s advice for taking care of a grandpa when the parents leave. Learn snack tips, ideas for staying quiet, ideas for playing, and activities while taking a walk. Kids will love the expert advice and tongue-in-cheek humor of the role reversal.
How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton
A guidebook for kids who want their own pet trains! Learn all about different trains, how to catch one, how to speak train, good names for trains, and all sorts of handy train-training advice.
How to Make Friends with a Ghost by Rebecca Green
When you meet a ghost, don’t be scared– make friends! This story will tell you just what to do.
If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed by Denise Vega
Sometimes it’s hard to get your monster to bed but this book will help! A little girl explains everything you need to do and it’s funny, sweet, and very entertaining.
How to Swallow a Pig by Steve Jenkins
In step-by-step clarity through images and words, learn how animal hunters capture and eat their prey. Watch as humpback whales trap and gulp fish, how a capuchin repels insects by rubbing millipedes on their fur, and how crocodiles catch a meal — YIKES! (Plus, lots more.)
How to Read a Story by Kate Messner
Clear steps (Step 1: Find a story) plus details make this a great choice for a procedural mentor text. The only thing this book doesn’t have is transitions so you’ll have to use a different book for those. Otherwise, this book is absolutely lovely because READING! Also read: How to Write a Story.
How to Make Slime by Lori Shores
Perfect for early elementary ages, this book shares simple directions for making slime along with colorful photographs. Great introduction and sequential steps but the directions aren’t numbered so that might be a drawback.
Let’s Make Some Great Fingerprint Art by Marion Deuchars
I like that this mentor text how-to book gives the materials needed, numbered directions, and includes illustrations. Any craft or drawing book like this meant for student readers could be used as a mentor text.
Super Simple Baking for Kids by Charity Mathews
Any cookbook designed for children to read will work. This particular book has easy-to-follow directions, a list of ingredients, and a list of equipment needed, both of which might be elements you’ll want your writers to use in their own writing.
How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funke with Reshma Saujani, illustrated by Sara Palacios
In order to be successful with her coding to build a sandcastle, Pearl learns she has to be specific with her instructions to her robot Pascal. She learns that imprecise directions don’t work. She solves the many problems as she tries to write clear, sequential directions to get an end result that she likes.
How I Trained My Dog in 10 Days by Norma Lewis, illustrated by Tom Tinn-Disbury
Readers will laugh throughout this entire story of a boy determined to train his dog but each time he sets a rule, his dog breaks it. Soon the dog is playing video games, drinking from the toilet, and sleeping in the boy’s bed. Just who is training who?
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