How-to Writing

What do students need to know to succeed in fourth grade (or third or fifth)? What supplies are needed? What rules and steps should be followed? These and many other questions provide the framework for students to write how-to essays for a specific audience—future fourth graders. Although this series of lessons focuses specifically on fourth grade, it can be easily adapted for third or fifth graders. Students first learn about the how-to writing genre by reading an assortment of instruction manuals. This also demonstrates how how-to writing relates to their everyday lives. The teacher then models each step of the writing process as the students write about how to be successful fourth graders. After students publish their writing, the final drafts are saved for the following year's fourth graders to read at the beginning of the next school year. These lessons provide real-world examples and application of how-to writing. Students use u201cmentor textsu201d and then create their own meaningful piece. There are 5, 40-minute sessions.

Standards & Objectives

Learning objectives: 


  • Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).


Student Objectives:

Students will:

  • Recognize that how-to writing is a genre they encounter in their everyday lives
  • Identify the characteristics of the how-to writing genre and incorporate them into a how-to essay about succeeding in the fourth grade
  • Identify the audience for their how-to essay (i.e., future fourth graders) and shape the essay to appeal to this audience
  • Apply the steps of the writing process to complete the how-to essay

Unit Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Differentiation suggestions: 

Students may choose a topic of interest to write another how-to essay. For example, students may choose to write instructions for how to play a board game or a sport that they enjoy.