Teaching Students About Explanation Text

What is an Explanation Text?

An Explanation text is a piece of non-fiction writing that explains an action process or event in a detailed but basic way. It has numbered points, pictures, diagrams, labels, and captions to help the reader understand the process of what’s being delivered.

What are the Key Features of an Explanation Text?

  • Explanation text is typically written in the present tense with formal to-the-point language that doesn’t deviate from the topic.
  • It uses separate text with headings and subheadings to make the explanation text simple and easy to understand.
  • Add pictures and diagrams with labels for visual learners.
  • Any technical vocabulary should fit into a glossary at the end to help with jargon.
  • Numbered points that explain something step-by-step.

Here is the above explanation text example that’s been rewritten in an instructional way:

How is Ice Cream Made?

Mix milk, cream, and sugar.

Heat the mixture to kill off any germs.

Add flavors and colorings to the mixture, i.e., strawberry and pink food coloring.

Freeze and whip the mixture to make the ice cream consistency.

How can I use explanation text examples to support students’ writing?

You can use explanation text examples within the classroom to support the following:

  • For text analysis where children search for genre features.
  • To support teachers and staff in their knowledge and understanding of the 2014 English National Curriculum objectives.
  • As a high-quality example for children to aim for in their writing.
  • Children can see how language devices can work in the context of a complete text.
  • For SLT or English subjects, leaders are to develop a portfolio of exemplar texts.

What’s the difference between an information text and an explanation text?

Instructional text is sequencing an event, action, or process by telling someone what to do. See above for an example.

Explanation text describes something non-fiction; it typically explains ‘why’ we do something and the entire process.

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