A Simple Lesson in Following Directions (With a Free Printable!)

When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher handed the class an assignment I never forgot. It was a single mimeographed sheet of paper (some of you may remember those!) that looked long and daunting. The teacher told us to read the directions and get on with the assignment. Then she sat at her desk, appearing unapproachable. (She was good at that.)

Many of us sighed or grumbled, but still, I did as I was told...and discovered there was no real work to do! You see, at the top of the page, it said to read all the directions FIRST...and if you did that, when you got to the end of the page, the directions said to turn the paper in to the teacher. That was it! Many students failed to read all the directions first, and ended up sweating through the crazy questions...but, like me, I'm sure they never forgot the lesson!

This year, I wanted to do something similar with my fourth grader. (Don't homeschool? No worries! You can still give your child this "extra" homework assignment.) When she pulled it out of her assignment folder she sighed. "Do I have to do more math today?" she said. (Math is her least favorite subject, so the idea of doing extra work was not something she was excited about.) "Yep," I said, and left the room.

A few minutes later, she came up to me with a grin on her face. She'd learned the lesson: Always follow the directions! An important lesson for any student.

You can download my "Following Directions" worksheet from Google Docs.


  1. I can't remember if a teacher did this to me before or if I just remember reading it somewhere before, but when you blogged this it all came back to me. GREAT idea. I think I will put this on the next item my husband assembles for me. Haha :)

  2. My daughters and I talked about that EXACT worksheet on Tuesday! We laughed and laughed!

  3. My daughters and I talked about that EXACT same worksheet on Tuesday! We laughed and laughed and laughed!