Writing instructions

Learning focus

To explore how to write clear instructions that give information and explanation.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos

  • three activities

Learn

Non-fiction texts are those that are true and give factual information to the reader. They are not stories.

Some examples of non-fiction texts are newspaper articles, adverts, biographies and texts that give instructions.

Instruction texts tell the reader how to do something, like how to cook a meal or how to build a chair. They must be written clearly so the reader can easily understand each step.

Instructions are seen everywhere in daily life - from the packaging on your favourite food and manuals on how to use a new toy, to ‘how to’ videos on the internet.

Watch this short video to learn more about writing instructions.

Learn how to write carefully crafted instructions to help with almost anything.

Here are some key features to include when writing instructions:

  • A title saying what the instructions are about.
  • A short introduction explaining what the instructions are going to help the reader make or create.
  • A list of the items or equipment the reader needs to complete the instructions.

It is also important to write down the different steps on what to do in chronological order (the order in which they happen) and to number each step.

Top tip!

  • Use command verbs for giving instructions – chop, mix, stir.
  • Use conjunctions which show time order – first, next, then, until.

Practise

You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Activity 1

Read this set of instructions called ‘How to make a potion to turn your teacher into a toad’.

Then have a go at answering the questions that follow.

Write your answers to the questions on a piece of paper, or you can think about them and discuss them with a friend or someone at home.

  1. Do the instructions have a title? What is it?
  2. What information is given first?
  3. What does ‘ingredients’ mean?
  4. How do you know what order to do the instructions in?
  5. What type of word does each instruction start with?

Activity 2

Next, watch the clip featuring George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl.

Listen carefully to the section between 01:20 and 01:36 to find out what ingredients George uses to make medicine for his grandma.

Watch how George concocts a special medicine for his grandma, with some very unexpected results.

Now it’s your turn. Try and come up with a special medicine for a horrible person!

First you will need to make a list of the ingredients that you would use. You can choose anything you like to put into your medicine – no matter how bad it tastes!

Say why you would add each item. What will it do to to them?

Write a list of at least six items.

For example:

  • red lipstick to give them rosy cheeks

  • a whole bottle of perfume to make them smell like flowers

Activity 3

Time for more? Have a go at writing a set of instructions that tell other people how to make your medicine. Include the ingredients you chose for Activity 2.

When writing your instructions remember to include:

  • A title - these often start with ‘How to …’
  • A short introduction explaining what your instructions are telling the reader to make.
  • A list of ingredients that will go in your medicine and the amount needed of each one.
  • The steps in order of when each item needs to be added to the pot. Explain why each ingredient is being used and describe what they will do to grandma.
  • Add numbers to each step.
  • Use time conjunctions at the start of at least four steps – for example - first, then, next, after, until
  • Use command verbs – mix, stir, add, put

Where next?

In this lesson you have learned how to write clear instructions.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you find out more about instructional or persuasive texts.

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