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Tinker Toys and digital cameras are used in this direction writing exercise


Art, Language Arts, Science  


9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Tinker Toys Project
By – Dawn Pawlowski
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – Art, Science
Grade Level – 9-12

Objectives: Students will…

1. Write detailed directions using specific descriptions
2. Explain the importance of writing detailed descriptions

Materials: Tinker Toys, Paper, Writing Utensils, and Digital camera

Step-by-step tasks:

Day 1:

1. Break students into groups of 3-4. Within the groups, assign the following jobs:

      (a) Architect(s) – student(s) who is/are primarily responsible for building the 3 dimensional object.


      (b) Construction Foreman – Student who is responsible for keeping the group on-task and being the timekeeper.


    (c) Recorder – Student who is responsible for writing the directions.

2. Each group will be given a set of Tinker Toys. Groups have 30 minutes to build their 3-dimensional object.

3. Once the 3-dimensional object is completed, the group needs to work together to write the directions. (***Students should be urged to use detailed language: shape, color, length, etc. when writing the directions.) Groups will have 20-30 minutes to write/type the directions.

4. Once the directions are written, the group will take a picture, using a digital camera, of their 3-dimensional object.

5. Using a USB cable, download picture of 3-dimensional object to the computer and print.

6. Take apart 3-dimensional objects.

Day 2:

1. Have students get back into their groups. Switch directions with another group and try to build their 3-dimensional object. Do NOT give the group the picture. Give groups 15-20 minutes to build.

2. Once building is completed, have the group compare the original object to the newly made one. Have the group critique the directions using the following questions:

      (a) Does the student who built the project include his/her name on the instructions?


      (b) Do the instructions have a title?


      (c) Is there a materials listed section?


      (d) What would you change about the materials listed section? (Colors of materials, use of numbers, names of materials)


      (e) When you built the project, did it look like the one in the picture? What is different?


      (f) What steps would you change in order to make them better? In other words. what would it take to have the project you built match the project that is in the picture?


    (g) Comments or suggestions…

3. Give the directions, picture of newly created object, original picture, and the written critique back to the original group. Give the group 30 minutes to edit/rewrite the directions.

4. Turn in the original directions, revised directions, and both pictures (properly labeled) of the 3-dimensional objects built.

5. Clean-up.

6. Group Discussion on the following questions:

      (a) How easy or difficult was it to write directions for what you built? Why?


      (b) How easy or difficult was it to build the other group’s object using only directions? Why?


      (c) When the other group built your object, did it look exactly like yours? Why do you think that happened?


      (d) What could your group done to write better directions?


      (e) Did you like this project? Why or why not?


    (f) How could the teacher make this project better?

Home-to-school Connection:
Assign students homework which would allow students to demonstrate their understanding of writing directions. Possible direction writing topics could be:

      1. How to make a sandwich


      2. How to write a recipe


    3. Step-by-steps directions for walking from school to his/her house

Optional Activities and Extended Lessons
Allow groups to switch directions with a different group for a second time (day 3). Give groups the same day 2 steps for building, critiquing, and revision.

E-Mail Dawn Pawlowski !

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