Reading and following procedures is a part of everyday life. We need to follow a procedure to make a cake, take medicine, repair a bicycle, treat head lice, assemble a DIY bookcase, or install an app on a digital device. The list in inexhaustible.
Sometimes procedures are presented as text, sometimes as illustrations or diagrams, and sometimes as a combination of both. They work best when each step of the sequence is accurately described and illustrated.
However, not all procedural texts are created equal. Sometimes the language may be inappropriate and unclear. Sometimes steps are omitted or sequenced incorrectly. Sometimes diagrams have little resemblance to what is required and confuse, rather than clarify, the process.
Trying to figure out what to do can cause a great deal of frustration in such circumstances. The more practised we are with following procedures, the more adept we are at interpreting inadequate instructions to achieve a good outcome.
It is never too soon for children to learn to read and follow procedures. The inclusion of procedural texts in a classroom literacy program has many benefits.
Following a procedure provides a context and purpose for reading. It requires children to interpret instructions through a combination of text and visual representation. It generally implies that children are doing or making something, which engages their interest and encourages participation. It develops an essential real-life skill that is transferrable to a range of situations. The sense of achievement in successfully completing a project is both affirming and empowering and often requires no other feedback.
Procedural texts can be easily incorporated into a class reading program as an independent or group reading activity. An assistant to support, encourage and oversee can be invaluable.
Features of procedural texts
The reading of a procedural texts differs from reading fiction or non-fiction texts.
- The title, and sometimes a short description, tells what will be done or made.
- There is generally a list of requirements.
- The body of the procedure is written as a sequential series of commands.
- The verb, telling the action to be performed, occurs at the beginning of the sentence.
- The sentence is directed to the reader, and means, “You do this.”
- Each sentence is generally short with one action to be performed in each step.
There is a range of readilearn resources to involve children in reading and following procedural texts. Many of the procedures are provided in different formats for use with the whole class or with small groups or by individuals. Some are supported by additional resources, and How to make a paper plate cat face is presented with two levels of text.
I hope you and your children enjoy using these resources. They were always enjoyed in my own classroom, and have been the most popular resources in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Please contact me if you have any questions. I welcome your feedback, especially suggestions for improvements to existing resources and ideas for new ones.
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