12 Days of Holiday Freebies, Day 3: Teaching Children to Follow Directions with the Gingerbread Man

Gingerbread Man Following Directions Freebie from HeidiSongs
 

Welcome to two of our “12 Days of Holiday Freebies” countdown!  It’s our third day of Gingerbread Man themed freebies!  Today’s activity is “Teaching Children to Follow Directions with the Gingerbread Man,” and it includes a worksheet follow-up as well.  There are many ways to use this, and the children do NOT have to be able to read the directions to do it, so be sure to read below.  This is an AWESOME way to increase auditory perception skills, and it’s lots of fun, too! I’ve also included some suggestions for how to increase visual perception skills as well.

Gingerbread Man Following Directions Freebie
 

This activity is very simple to use.  All you have to do is download the worksheet above here, read the instructions to the children, have them follow them and decorate the Gingerbread Man.  Of course, if your students can read the instructions themselves, by all means, let them!

To do more of this, give the children a blank outline of a Gingerbread Man, and then give them step-by-step directions on how to decorate it, making it up as you go along.  There are additional blank outlines (except for the face) of the Gingerbread Man with no instructions on top on yesterday’s post, so you can use those as well. I posted them in color and also in black and white, and of course the whole file is free!  (Yay!)   See the picture of it below.  If you want the face also blank, just cover it up with yellow sticky notes before copying.  That always worked for me, LOL!  If I get a chance later, I will post another set that is totally blank for you.

Blank Gingerbread Men (2)
 

This activity could be done either in small groups or in a large group; the choice is yours! You can make this easier or harder for the children in several ways.  Here are a few ideas on how to differentiate this lesson:

To Make It Easier:
– Give directions very slowly, step by step, having children raise their pencils up when they are done with each step so that you can see that they are following along.
– Enlarge your copy or place it on a projection device such as a document camera, interactive white board, or overhead projector so that children can see yours as they go along.
– Let the children use dry erase markers and put the papers in page protectors or other types of dry erase sleeves so that they can keep erasing until they get it right.
– Keep checking for understanding as you go along.

To Make It a Little Harder:
– Give directions a bit more quickly, and showing your teacher sample only every few steps.  This will “force” children to focus on their listening skills rather than depend on the visual aspect of the lesson.  (Yikes!)  Make a game out of seeing who will get all of the decorations down on the Gingerbread Man without missing a step.
– Try doing this more than once over the course of several days to see if you can increase their listening skills.

To Make It the Most Challenging:
– Hide the teacher sample completely until you are finished with the whole activity.
– Use lots of position words as you give directions, such as under, over, on, next to, etc.
– Use shapes and other descriptive vocabulary as you give directions such as words like smooth, curvy, pointed, straight, etc.
– Put up barriers between desks so that children cannot even see each other’s work as you go along.  Setting large hard cover books up between children will work!
– Give directions more quickly than you usually would to keep kids thinking and make this even more challenging!

To Change This Activity Completely, Try Doing it WITHOUT SAYING A WORD!

In this case, you would simply give the directions silently, by drawing ONLY.  The children would have to work on improving their visual perception skills rather than their auditory perception skills- not to mention SELF-CONTROL!  Make it so that the children also must stay completely silent!  You could make a game out of it by keeping score.  Each time you give a direction and the class stays completely silent, give them a point.  Ten points and they get five minutes extra playtime, or something like that.  (Sounds like a GREAT way to make it from now until the end of the holiday season, right?  LOL!)

 

 

Here’s a great gift idea for a child in your life that is learning to read and needs help with phonics!  Check out our Sounds Fun Phonics DVD shown in the video clip above!  It’s only $15 dollars and would make a great gift for any child that is an active learner and enjoys singing and dancing along to music!

 

How to Differentiate This Lesson Whole Group:

Although it may seem as though your whole class would have to all be working at the same level if you work on this as a whole group, it is possible to give a small group of struggling children some extra assistance while you still challenge the rest of the group.  Here are some ways I have done this:
– Seat the children that you think will need a bit more guidance closer to you and together as a group.  Place your sample where they can see it, but see if you can keep it out of view of the rest of the children.  You may wish to let the children themselves decide who wants to sit in the “I Need to See It” group and who can sit in the “I’m Going to Try It Without Looking” group.  After you try it once, you can readjust where they are sitting based on their success!
– If you choose to leave kids sitting where they usually are, simply keep roaming around the classroom as you give directions, keeping a close eye on the children that you think may struggle with this.  Keep a pencil with you and reach down to lightly trace what they should be doing on their papers when needed.
– Assign the children that struggle with this a buddy that you think will be a compassionate helper.  I find that children who have younger siblings often make good helpers to classmates who need a little help.  Be sure to praise those that are good helpers to friends, either later in private or in public as you see fit.  (Just avoid humiliating or embarrassing the child that needed some help.)
– Remember that even the large pyramids were built one brick at a time!  So celebrate the small successes!  If a struggling child managed to follow the directions twice one day, and three times the next, that’s a victory to celebrate!  Think about helping children celebrate their individual progress and compare their progress only to how they each did previously.

 

Other Ways to Practice Following Directions

This lesson can be done with SO many other things:  jack-o-lanterns, scarecrows, leaves, Christmas trees, snowmen, Valentine cards, creative flags, flowers, creative imaginary insects or fish, shamrocks to decorate, Easter eggs, greeting cards, drawings of mom or dad for Mother’s or Father’s Day, drawings of zoo animals or other real animals.

You can also help children practice following by playing Simon Says and give them more than one step.  For example, Simon Says with two steps would sound like this:  “Simon says, ‘Touch your eyes and your nose.'”  Or, “Simon says, ‘Pat your belly and jump one time.”

The same thing could be done silently by playing Monkey See, Monkey Do.  They watch you, and then they do what you do.  These types of games increase the attention span as well, of course!  You could designate a signal that means “Simon Says” but have it be silent, too.  For example, if you put your hands around your mouth, and simply mouth the words “Simon says” before you do a movement, that would be enough.  If they see you do that, then they should mimic your movements.  If not, then they should not.

These types of activities promote self-regulation and self-control, which is always a GREAT thing at this time of year!

Have fun with this, and I would love to hear your feedback on how it goes!  Be sure to come back tomorrow for more fun freebies and ideas.

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Heidi Butkus

About Heidi Butkus

Heidi Butkus has been teaching in California public schools since 1985. She has somehow managed to stay in Kindergarten all of those years, with the exception of five years in first grade, and also taught a parent participation preschool for a short while! Combining a strong knowledge of brain research with practical experience, Heidi has created a wealth of fun and engaging teaching techniques that work well with diverse populations. She has presented at conferences nationwide, and is the owner and founder of HeidiSongs.com. Heidi has also created fourteen original CD's and DVD's for teaching beginning reading and math skills, three musical plays designed especially for young performers, and has written some picture books and many other teaching resources. Heidi's multimedia workshops are filled with fun and motivational educational activities that have been classroom tested and revised for effectiveness with all types of learners.
  1. Pingback: Montessori Monday - Free Gingerbread Printables and Montessori-Inspired Gingerbread Activities | LivingMontessoriNow.com

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