How to Writing in First Grade

June 2, 2015

How to writing is one of my favorite writing units to teach.
My students just get it and they enjoy writing many, many pieces!


Maybe it’s because my students think they know how to do everyyyytthiinngggg. 😉
If your students are like mine, let them run with the idea that they know it ALL and have them write all their genius down on paper!


During my first couple years of teaching, I taught the how-to genre as a short unit largely reliant on prompts. I would ask all my students to complete the same prompt using transition words. We wrote all about how to build a snowman, how to make a sandcastle, how to brush our teeth, etc. and we called it a day.


That was fun and my students certainly learned how to write some procedural pieces, but I fell in love with writer’s workshop and wanted to create a unit that aligned. I wanted my students to own their how-to pieces, get excited about them and walk through the entire writing process from brainstorming to publishing.


My students recently published their how-to books and I wanted to share a little about how we completed our books and the process we went through.


how to writing
After we learned what the “how-to” genre was all about, we brainstormed some things we know how to do at school, outside, at home, and in the kitchen!


Zooming in:
When teaching this unit, I quickly realized that my students needed help choosing a *smaller* topic. We spend a whole day practicing zooming in on larger topics to find  something more specific to teach.


 Writing, writing, writing!
 I explain in my unit that my students write many, many pieces to keep throughout this unit. Every time we learn a new skill or concept, my students go back into their writing folders and add it to their older pieces. Our writing pages are always a work in progress!




When it is publishing time, my students choose one of their writing pieces to edit/revise and turn into their own book! Along with these steps there is plenty more in the how-to unit I created:

You can grab all this and more in my How To Writing unit below:

If you click the image above you can download the preview and see what else is in there!


Want to take your students from scribbles and sketches to writing published stories?!
I have a free 4-part video series you can watch here. Just click below to get the info!



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Looking for a new how to writer's workshop unit?! I love using this easy, step-by-step process to teach students to write procedural books. They get to show what they are experts in! Head over to see lessons, anchor charts, and more.


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  • Hi! I LOVE the ____ knows how to brainstorming sheet! However, I'm not sure how to access it. When I click, it just takes me to a bigger picture. How can I download and/or print it?
    Thanks in advance and I can't wait to use it! 🙂

  • I love how you really went into depth with this unit. I teach sequencing but you went so much further. I can’t wait to expand my lessons. Thanks for always sharing.


  • HI Susan:

    I love all your teaching tips, aids and videos. I can count on you for quality. How can I access your worksheets.

    Thank You.