Recipes, instructions and other procedural writing activities help second graders learn to organize their thoughts. Second grade teachers can do prewriting activities that involve making lists of all the things students wish to include in their procedural writing. Second graders enjoy sharing what they know, so encouraging creativity can make this type of writing fun!

Creepy Cooking

As second-graders watch or help their parents cook, or see others cooking via television programs, they make cooking connections, which means that recipes can be a natural first procedural writing experience for them. Near Halloween, have students come up with their own crazy and creepy recipes such as monster stew, witches brew and ghostly gumbo. Brainstorm as a class to come up with ideas for each recipe. Let students work together in small groups to put the list of ingredients and the preparation steps in order. Once the recipes are complete, send the recipes home with the students and ask each family to contribute an ingredient for the project. Then plan a day for students to bring in their ingredient and work in groups with a parent volunteer to create their recipes. Point out how important it is to include the right ingredients and to have the steps in the proper order for someone else to be able to follow the recipes they have written.

Have Fun With How-Tos

Second-grade students enjoy telling others how to do something they are good at. Use this natural love of communicating knowledge as a procedural writing activity. Brainstorm with your students asking them the question, “Who knows how to do something that no else knows how to do?” Then give them a few examples by asking questions like, “Who plays an instrument?” or “Who knows how to do karate?” Write students’ answers on a white board. Next, give the students a graphic organizer that has at least three text bubbles labeled “First, Next, Last” on it with space for writing each step. Have students choose whatever it is they know how to do, and write the steps on the graphic organizer. There will obviously be more steps to any of their activities than what they will write, but the expectation here is that they will tell others how to do something from a second-grade perspective. Finally, have students illustrate their activity by drawing a picture and attaching it to the top of the graphic organizer. Display the illustrated writing in the hallway or around the classroom.

Creating Origami Animals

A fun way to expose second graders to procedural writing is to teach them to make origami animals. Use origami instructions for animals that have steps the students can follow easily. Consider asking for parent volunteers who know how to make origami animals or who would be willing to come in and help with the folding activity. Origami animals like a crab or an elephant have less than 10 steps and would be appropriate for second graders.

Make It a Game!

Use a game to further explain the importance of procedural writing to second-grade students. Have students sit in a circle in the middle of the classroom. Choose one person to be the guard of a “treasure box” in the center of a circle. Place a blindfold on the guard, and give him or her a stick made of rolled-up newspaper. Have each student in the circle try to steal the box of treasure without being tapped by the guard’s newspaper. The first person who's able to steal the treasure without being tapped gets to trade places with the guard. Play a few rounds of the game until each student has had a chance to try to steal the treasure. To show students the importance of setting up the game right and following the steps in the correct order, talk to them about the steps they followed in the game and ask questions like these: “What would have happened if we had not blindfolded the guard?” “What would have happened if the treasure box was behind the guard instead of in front?”