Procedural Texts – How to Set Up a Tent

Our DEM (Direction de l’enseignment à la maison) monitoring meeting is tomorrow. I could rant, but I don’t have the time. It was suggested that I should pull together “proofs” or “traces” of all the competencies in the curricula. I thought since I am going through some things, I’ll try to do some blog posts in case they help anyone out there.

This one is about procedural texts. As an example, my daughter wrote out instructions on how to set up a tent back in the fall. With camping season approaching I thought it might be a good one to share.  

In cycle one of the Québec curricula, students should write a variety of texts for a specific purpose. In the case of a procedural text the purpose would be to instruct. This activity involved a discussion on ways to learn and do by oneself a new skill. My daughter decided that it would be easier to learn how to set up the tent if she did it with me and wrote instructions out for herself to follow in case she forgot and needed to look at them. She tested her instructions herself and made edits. Her dad and I also read and tried her instructions.

Equally important, she practiced perseverance, overcame some challenges and frustrations, and felt capable and proud of herself afterwards.

This activity meets other competencies as well, such as beginning to identify some structures and features of text type (e.g., a numbered list of steps). I find the Québec curricula somewhat vague and hard-to-read. I usually have the Ontario one, which gives specific examples of the competency/expectation, up simultaneously to help interpret in a practical way the Québec one.

As homeschoolers in Québec, we have to legally cover the provincial curricular competencies, but really, we want our children to be able to read and communicate effectively to meet their purpose (whether it be for pleasure, to express, to inform or to instruct). I try not to get too swept up in each particular, narrow curricular competency, which can take the joy and wholistic purpose out of learning and teaching, and might just have you working through government-approved workbooks. Rather, I try to keep the big picture in mind, and importantly to make reading and writing fun and meaningful. As homeschoolers we can really tap into our child’s interests and do meaningful projects that can’t often happen within the four-walls of a classroom with 20-30 other students.

  • Does your kid like camping? Then you could do a procedural text on how to set up a tent, how to start a fire, how to use a compass, how to use a map, how to prepare for an outdoor adventure etc.
  • Does your kid love nature? They could do a procedural text on how to use binoculars, how to find a particular bird, how to identify a species of plant, how to grow a particular plant etc.
  • Does your kid like science experiments? They could write up the procedure of a science experiment.
  • Does your kid love to draw? They could make an illustrated procedural text on how to draw something.
  • Does your kid have a big imagination and love dragons? They could write a procedure on how to put a dragon to bed.
  • Does your kid like being in the kitchen? They could write a recipe (like how to make their favourite smoothie)

Here is a fun video of a dad testing out his kids’ procedural texts on how to make a peanut butter and jam sandwich, which will illustrate the need to be specific, not to make too many assumptions, to test their texts out, and to make revisions. It will likely give you a laugh.

The options are endless so we might as well tap into our kids’ intrinsic motivations or maybe you want them to learn some specific life skill like how to do the laundry, brush one’s teeth properly, or make their parents good coffee?

Be well and keep the big-picture purpose in mind, Kate