Can You Follow My Directions?


Students will place coins on a grid and will write clear directions to help other students find the coins. Students will review the writing of other authors to analyze effective writing.

Coin Type(s)

  • Cent
  • Nickel
  • Dime
  • Quarter
  • Half Dollar
  • Dollar

Coin Program(s)

  • Circulating Coins


  • Students will write with the purpose of giving clear directions.
  • Students will review the writing of other authors to analyze effective writing.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts


  • 3rd
  • 4th
  • 5th

Class Time

  • Sessions: One
  • Session Length: 30-45 minutes
  • Total Length: 0-45 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Pairs
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • Directions
  • Expository writing


  • Grid (graph) paper
  • Writing journals
  • Bag of coins for each student


Place coins on your grid paper and cover it so the students can't see where the coins are located.

Lesson Steps

  1. Distribute a piece of grid paper and a bag of coins to each of your students.
  2. Tell your students that you also have a piece of grid paper and have placed some coins on the paper.
  3. Give your students some vague directions about where the coins are located. For example, tell them you have a silver coin on the left side of the paper, or two pennies on your paper. Have the students try to determine the coins being used and their locations on your grid.

  4. Compare your grid to your students' to see if they are the same. The students’ grids will probably vary greatly from each other’s and from yours.

  5. Explain to the students that they are going to write clear and specific directions for replicating a certain arrangement of coins on the grid paper. Brainstorm with the students some accurate ways to describe the coins and their location on the grid paper.

  6. Have the students develop their set of directions. Have them include a sketch of where the coins are located as a key. You can set parameters such as how many coins to use.

  7. After the students complete their set of directions, have them exchange their directions and sketches with a partner. The students should first try to follow the written directions and then check their solution with the key.

  8. Have the students write comments on their partner’s paper about how clear the directions were. They can comment about where they had questions, or where they thought the directions were very clear.


Extend this lesson to become a mathematical introduction to coordinate grids. Instead of having your students use descriptive language to explain the location of the coins, have them label the graph paper with numbers, then describe the location of their coins by listing the coordinate pairs. Have your students exchange their directions and sketches to verify that the coordinate pairs listed are correct.


Evaluate the directions for clarity and the writing for mechanics.

Common Core Standards

This lesson plan is not associated with any Common Core Standards.

National Standards

This lesson plan is not associated with any National Standards.