Following Directions

By Activity Bank on Aug 29, 2013

This activity has been revised and was originally created by Charlotte Cushman and published in the Perkins Activity and Resource Guide (1st edition, 1992).  The second edition is available for purchase.

Having students who can follow directions makes for a happier classroom. This activity teaches students to follow one- and two-step commands upon request. It also develops auditory processing skills and increases students’ ability to sequence when they listen to instructions. Lessons include Concept Development, English Language Arts, and Social Skills.


Index cards with a separate activity listed on each card. Design the directions for the specific abilities of the students.


The teacher reads the card and the students follow the directions given on the card. The student gets to keep the card if she is able to follow the directions accurately. The student with the most cards at the end wins. Sample cards might include the following:


  • Wave “hello”
  • Nod your head “yes”
  • Shake your head “no”
  • Clap your hands
  • Touch your nose
  • Tap your knees

Two-step (related)

  • Stand up and turn around
  • Bend over and touch your toes

Two-step (unrelated)

  • Yawn and stomp your feet
  • Shake your head and laugh
  • Click your tongue and say “hello”
  • Snap your fingers and reach up high
  • Touch your elbow and wiggle your toes


  • This activity can be done with each student taking a turn individually or everyone doing it together.
  • If students are having difficulty following the directions, have them repeat the directions back to you before completing the actions.
  • Students can take turns making up their own directions.
  • Directions can be made more difficult by increasing the number of steps, by making them unrelated, or by increasing the complexity of what is being asked – “Put your right hand on your left shoe.”
  • Add sequencing directions using the concept of “before” and “after”: for example, “Clap your hands after you stand up.” “Stomp your feet before you sit down.”
  • Adapt traditional games such as “Simon Says” or “Mother May I?”


Hint: Throughout the day, give students opportunities to follow directions.