Procedures are the step by step descriptions of how to do something. They are one of the language tasks children learn as they move from using single sentences to joining sentences together to form larger blocks of language called “texts”. Being able to retell procedures is important in developing the skills needed later in science type subjects and in understanding and writing non fiction.
Procedures help kids learn:
how to link sentences together
time concepts such as first, next, last
Procedures can be fun for kids to learn because they can be based around real life, hands on activities. Technology such as digital cameras and printers means it is now quicker, easier and cheaper for parents to make their own personalised resources to help their child learn these skills.
When working on procedures together:
Start with a simple activity with three steps and make the activities longer and more complex as your child develops.
Talk about what you are going to do and what the steps are.
Do the activity together, talking about each step as you do it and what will come next.
Use time concept words such as first, next, last and joining words “and then..”. “first we put butter and jam on, then next we cut the sandwich and then we eat it last”
At the end of the activity, list each step then ask your child to tell you the steps
If you have made some visuals (see below), help your child to use these to sequence and describe what you have done
Talk about what you have done with someone else for extra practice “Tell Dad how you helped me make the sandwiches.”
For school aged children record your procedure with movies, photos, a power point display or writing.
Use visuals to help your child learn to sequence the steps and describe them.
Take some photos of your child as they do an activity, print and cut out the photos and use these for your child to put in order and retell what they have done.
Try making short movie clips on your phone or ipad, playing them back, stopping at each step and talking about what is happening.
Make your photos into books and write the words for each step to go with each picture
Make your photos into a power point or slide show to look at on your computer or ipad and perhaps record a voice over with your child describing what is happening
School aged children can also:
Use a planner to plan out the steps in your procedure before you do your activity or write your procedure.
Write out each step onto a separate strip of paper as they think of it then put the strips in order and fill in any gaps before writing.
Type a procedure onto the computer then use cut and paste to get the steps in order, edit and fill in any missing parts.
12 ideas for developing procedures:
1. Daily routines such as getting dressed, brushing your teeth, having a bath are great for younger children because the sequence of steps is familiar and predictable.
2. Cooking or food preparation such as making a sandwich, milk shake, juicing an orange, making a salad, baking a cake are fun and you can eat your work at the end. You could even make a family cookbook with your favourite receipes. Write out the steps to make your family's favourite foods, add some photos of your child making the recipes and print them out as gifts for family and friends. Here are some fun kids food ideas.
3. Craft activities such as drawing, painting, collage and other "making type activities are very motivating. You could make some crafts for gifts for family and make a procedure about how you made it and incldue some photos of your child making the gift to make the gift extra special. Here are some kids craft ideas we've collected on our Pinterest page.
4. Construction activities such as building things blocks or Lego are always favourites. Your child could build something then tell or write down how to make it so someone else could copy their construction.
5. Outings such as going on an excursion at school or a trip to the beach or the zoo are things to remember. A procedure would have a slightly different structure to a recount. A procedure would tell what you need to do to repeat the activity e.g. "first we got our ticket, then we sat in our seat..." whereas a recount is more about the experience "I liked the giraffes"
6. Travelling to a familiar place such as to grandma's house, the park or school, is great for practicing spatial concepts such as left and right as well as time concepts, first, next last.
7. Special events such as decorating the Christmas tree, making a birthday card or cake, wrapping a present are always great things to do together. Take photos or movies and make these into book or power point display. Help your child write what happened and encourage them to share these with others.
8. Hands on activities such as changing batteries, fixing a tyre, or science experiments, are great learning opportunities. Make your own "how to" book.
9. Book based ideas such as "how Jack climbed the beanstalk", "how the hungry caterpillar turned into a butterfly" are a great opportunity to talk about the different structure of narratives and procedures.
10. Sharing with your child books that show procedures such as kids cook books, craft books, science experiment books, how to books and other non-fiction books will help them learn about different types of texts. Choose some fun activities to work through. Record your creations as you do them with movies and voice overs, photos with captions or in writing.
11. Involving your child in activities where you have to work out how to do something such as assembling a bookshelf or fixing the car will help with problem solving too. Let them help you read and the instructions and follow them step by step.
12. Involving your child in planning family activities helps them learn all kinds of skills. Start with simple things such as planning a shopping trip, what you need to buy, where you need to go and in what order. Move onto more complex things such as planning a family holiday together, looking at all the things you need to plan, book, pack etc. Help them record the lists and procedures you all need to work though.
Incorporate these things into your daily activities to help your child develop procedural language:
Make a habit of telling your child what you are going to do and what the steps are before you do it “I am going to make breakfast, first I will cook the toast, then put butter and jam, and then we can eat it”
Ask your child to tell you how they did things, such as if they have made something at preschool. “You made a bus out of a box, tell me all the things you did to make it”
Encourage your child to describe to others the things that they have done. “Tell Grandma how we made the birthday cake. Tell Dad all the things you did at school today”.
At the end of the day talk though the things you did and how you did them
Encourage your child to tell others how to do things that they know how to do. “Tell your brother what he has to do to make a Lego house like the one you made. Tell your sister what she needs to do to brush her teeth all by herself”.
We hope you have fun learning procedures together. For more language activities and ideas
Talking Matters provides speech pathology, occupational therapy and psychology services to kids of all ages in Adelaide, South Australia. To find out more about our team and what we do browse our website and see how we can help your family.
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