Lesson plan

Creating a "How To" Book

With this creative and imaginative lesson, teach your students to use transition words to sequence events as they write and illustrate a "How To" book.
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Students will be able to sequence events using transition words as they make an informative picture book.

(5 minutes)
  • Hook: Pantomime the making of a banana split (“I am so hungry! I’m going to make myself a banana split.”)
  • Describe each step as you pantomime. From an empty paper bag, take out the invisible ingredients and with exaggerated gestures and description, “make” the banana split in front of the students (e.g. "First I’ll cut the banana and put it on the dish. I’m putting three scoops of ice cream in between the halves of banana. Now I’ll squeeze some chocolate sauce on top of the ice cream. Next I need to add some whipped cream. I’m adding some sprinkles too. Finally, I’ll put a cherry on the very top").
(5 minutes)
  • On chart paper, write the heading: HOW TO MAKE A BANANA SPLIT
  • Ask students to tell you the steps to make a banana split based on your pantomime. Record their answers on the chart paper, being sure to keep the steps in order. Prompt or guide students as needed.
(20 minutes)
  • Explain: "Now we are going to imagine that we have a new student in our class who has just moved here from outer space. He doesn’t know how to do the things we do here on Earth, so we are going to teach him how to do some important day to day tasks. Each of you will be making a book that will teach him the proper steps to do these important things."
  • Hand out 11" x 17" paper to each student.
  • Demonstrate how to make a smush book (see resources for instructions) and guide or assist students as they each make their own smush book. This is an easy way to make a book with only one sheet of paper and no binding.
  • Instruct students to set their book aside.
  • Use your sample smush book to model a "how to" book. On the cover, write: HOW TO MAKE A BANANA SPLIT. Then, use the steps from the chart paper to make a step-by-step ‘how to’ book (e.g. “First, cut a banana in half. Then, scoop three different ice cream flavors on top. Next, pour some chocolate sauce over the ice cream. Add some whipped cream and a cherry. Finally, take a bite!”)
  • Underline the transition words in your book (first, next, then, finally).
  • Draw a picture for the first page of your book. Display your book as a reference for students.
  • Ask: What else will our new student need to know while he is living here on Earth?
  • With students, brainstorm a list of 5-10 simple, multi-step tasks (e.g. how to...brush your teeth, make your bed, put on tennis shoes, make a sandwich, etc.) Write the list on the board.
  • Instruct students to choose a task from the list (do not offer how to make a banana split as an option).
  • Hand out the sequencing outline so that students can think about and record the steps for the task they have chosen.
  • Circulate the room as students work and offer support as needed.
(15 minutes)
  • Explain: Now you are going to use the worksheet you just completed as an outline for your book.
  • Remind students to use transition words in their books and write the four transition words used earlier in the lesson on the board for reference (first, then, next, finally).
  • Instruct students to take out the smush book they made earlier.
  • Explain: Use your smush book to make a "How To" book that describes your task. Make sure that you have all your steps in order so that our new student does not get confused.
  • Remind students to write a title (How to...) and draw pictures for each step in their book.
  • Circulate the room as students work, offering support as needed.


  • For students who need more scaffolding, provide sentence frames for each page of their book (e.g. First, __/ Then, __).
  • Help students pick a new task to sequence if the one they have chosen is too complex.


  • For an extra challenge, have students describe a more complex task. Glue two or three smush books together for extra pages if needed.
(5 minutes)
(10 minutes)
  • Have students switch books with a partner whose task was different than their own. Instruct students to take turns pantomiming the tasks using the instructions their partner wrote.

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