Tell us how YOU make a peanut butter jellysandwich!

Giving clear, concise instructions to others is an important skill for children to learn. In this game, students will practice using descriptive vocabulary, communicating ideas to others, recognizing steps in a process and recognizing the importance of the use of clear language.

Preparation

Gather the necessary materials. You may want to wear an apron or even make a trash bag smock—this can get messy (but that’s most of the fun)!

Suggested Materials

  • Peanut butter* (see Suggestions in the “Make it Better” step)
  • Jelly
  • Bag of Bread
  • Butter knife
  • Plate
  • Paper and pencils
  • Large trash bags

Opening Discussion

Ask your students if they have ever followed a recipe before. What kinds of things have they made? Does anyone know how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Would they teach you how?

The Challenge

Teach everyone else how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Doing the Activity

  1. Show your students the materials you have for making your sandwich. Hand out paper and pencils and ask each student (or pair of students) to write down their instructions for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Have them pass the instructions to you when they are done.
  2. Take a minute to look through the instructions—look for unclear commands—these are the ones you will want to act out. If you have an apron or a smock, put it on.
  3. Read the first instruction, and do EXACTLY what it says. For example, if it says “put the peanut butter on the bread”, you can literally put the jar of peanut butter on the bag of bread. There was no instruction to open the bread or the jar of peanut butter, no instruction to use the knife in any way, etc. See Suggestions (under “Make it Better”) for other examples of unclear instructions and how you might act them out. The more literal you are by doing exactly what the instructions say, the funnier the activity will be and the more likely you are to get your point across about the importance of clear instructions.
  4. You can take some instruction from the “audience” of students. They will be shouting out clarifications of the instructions you have read—this is a good thing! Once you have placed the jar of peanut butter on the bag of bread, for instance, students may yell out, “No—open the bag of bread!”  You can then rip open the bag, spilling the bread everywhere. Look for these opportunities to get children more and more focused in their instructions.
  5. Use more lines of instruction from other students’ “recipes” until you have made a “sandwich”—it will likely not look much like anything you want to eat!

Let’s Talk About It

After your first sandwich, ask you students if they think their instructions were clear or not. What are some things they might have done differently?

Build On What They Talked About

Have your students write a new recipe, collect these and follow these instructions. Hopefully you will have a clearer recipe for making this new sandwich.  If you would like, you can repeat this activity with a student playing the role of sandwich maker.

Suggestions

  • * Be aware of peanut allergies!  If any of your students are allergic to peanut butter, you can instead make a cream cheese and jelly sandwich or something similar.  If you do have any students who are allergic to peanuts, DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS ACTIVITY WITH PEANUT BUTTER!  Peanut allergies can be very serious and children can have reactions without even eating it.  So be aware and be careful!
  • You are playing a role as someone who has no clue what they are doing.  Think of yourself as a robot who can only do exactly as they are told.  Have fun with it—this can be a really funny activity if you play your role right.
  • Some “unclear” instructions and some suggested reactions:
  • * Be aware of peanut allergies!  If any of your students are allergic to peanut butter, you can instead make a cream cheese and jelly sandwich or something similar.  If you do have any students who are allergic to peanuts, DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS ACTIVITY WITH PEANUT BUTTER!  Peanut allergies can be very serious and children can have reactions without even eating it.  So be aware and be careful!
  • You are playing a role as someone who has no clue what they are doing.  Think of yourself as a robot who can only do exactly as they are told.  Have fun with it—this can be a really funny activity if you play your role right.
  • This activity also works very well as a training exercise for adults who work with children, as they often must give clear and concise instructions to their kids.

Some “unclear” instructions and some suggested reactions:

  • “Take a piece of bread out of the bag”
    • Tear a small piece from a slice of bread.
  • “Scoop a little jelly out of the jar.”
    • Spoon out a tiny amount of jelly.
  • “Spread the peanut butter and the jelly on different slices of bread.”
    • Spread the peanut butter on the bag of bread (or on the crust, instead of on the face of the slice of bread).
  • “Scoop out some peanut butter.”
    • Put the jar of peanut butter on one slice, and the jar of jelly on another.
  • “Use the knife to scoop out some peanut butter, then put it on the bread.”
    • Use your hand to scoop out the peanut butter
  • “Spread the peanut butter on the face of the bread.”
    • Use the wrong end of the knife to scoop out some peanut butter, then put the knife with the peanut butter on it on top of a slice of bread.
  • “Cut the sandwich down the middle.”
    • Smear peanut butter on your face (only for brave teachers!).
  • “Cut the sandwich into two pieces.”
    • Split the sandwich into one really small and one really big piece.
  • “Take the jelly…”
    • Pick up the jar of jelly and either put it into your pocket as though you are stealing it, or run out of the room with it, peeking back in to the room so they see you and can coax you back into the room.