Following Directions Activities for Older Students

Do your students sometimes have trouble following directions? Believe me- I hear you! Fortunately, there are some great ways to practice this skill with your older kids that will be fun for them – and useful for you! 

Listen and Draw

This activity is great for practicing listening comprehension. It can also be customized to include one-step, two-step, or multi-step directions. You can also repeat the directions at first and then cut back on the number of times you repeat them. 

In this activity, you will give the student oral directions on how to draw a basic picture. Before beginning, let the student know how many times you will repeat each direction. A set of one-step directions might look something like this- 

  1. Without touching the paper, move your pencil to the right-hand side of your paper. 
  2. Without touching the paper, move your pencil to the top corner. 
  3. Draw a circle in the top corner. 
  4. Draw lines coming out of the circle about an inch long. 
  5. Without touching the paper, move your pencil to the center of the paper. 
  6. Draw a square big enough to fill up about ⅓ of the paper. 
  7. Draw a triangle on top of the square that is as wide as the square. 
  8. Add a rectangle in the bottom middle of your square. 
  9. Draw a square on either side of that rectangle. 


If the student followed directions, he or she will have drawn something that looks like a house with a sun in the sky! You can change this so the student is drawing whatever you choose. 

Step by Step Challenge 

This activity works on listening comprehension using prepositions. The student will have to listen to all of the words in the entire direction in order to be successful. 

  1. First, give the student a worksheet showing a group of letters arranged in a few rows, with 6-8 letters per row. Make sure that some of the letters are duplicated within the group. 
  2. Next, read directions that involve prepositions aloud. Depending on your letter set, these could go something like this: 
    1. Before you cross out the first T, draw a circle around the second T. 
    2. After you draw a line under the first U, draw a star above the first R. 
    3. Point to the first M after you cross out the first Z. 
    4. After you circle the second H, draw a line above the second K. 


This activity challenges students to listen to the entire direction before reacting. It also lets students work on sequential order (first, second, etc.) and prepositions (before, after, under, over, etc.) 

Pairing Pictures with Directions 

Another fun activity is pairing pictures with directions. This activity can be done with either verbal or written instructions. In this activity, the teacher reads a set of directions aloud, or the student reads a set of directions. These directions are paired with mixed-up pictures that the student has to put in sequential order after reading or listening to the directions. For example, the directions might say something like:

  1. Put away your backpack. 
  2. Go to your seat. 
  3. Begin working work. 


Each picture would depict one of those steps, and the student would put the pictures of the steps in order. 

Role Play with Scaffolding 

Role-playing is a great way to practice following directions in the classroom. This activity can be modified to include one-step, two-step, and multi-step directions. Begin with one-step directions as a scaffold, and then gradually replace them with two-step, and then multi-step directions. 

Begin by role-playing directions that the student might receive from their teacher, and award points for each direction that he or she follows. Some examples of real-life directions are: 

  • Sharpen your pencil.
  • Hang up your backpack. 
  • Line up at the door


And so on! For a fun twist, the student can give you the directions, and you can follow them (or not!). Then he or she can critique your direction-following abilities! 

Play a Board Game

Board games are great opportunities to practice following directions! Students are motivated to follow directions and play by the rules because they want to win. When played with peers, board games are also great for learning to follow directions while in a group setting. 


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