How to Teach Instruction Writing

How to Teach Instruction Writing

  1. Choose relevant and engaging examples. Let the class see the types of writing they will be doing
  2. Explain each part of the example and give them ideas for different types of each example
  3. Do lots of talking first. Have students give each other instructions and discuss how difficult it can be.
  4. Write together as a class. Group writing is very helpful as it models the expectations and gives children ideas
  5. Practice the thing they will be writing about. If they are writing instructions for how to make a sandwich, make a sandwich together in class talking about each step.
  6. Scaffold their writing with handouts and prompts.


What topics are good for instruction writing?


Almost anything can be turned into an instructional writing topic. Children can write about the things they do every day in school, you can have them tell each other about hobbies they might have or relate it to the class book. Children love to be the expert and discuss the things they know with each other. Pairing them up to talk about their interests can be a great first step in the process.

When using a class book it is a good idea to talk about the things the characters are doing in the book. Did they just sky dive out of a plane? How do you think someone could do that? Even if they don’t know how you can talk as a class and make up rules you think they might need to follow.

Fantasy and magic books are perfect for instruction writing as they allow the kids to include anything they feel is important. Making a secret potion? The ingredients and special steps can be anything the class can think up. Or keeping a pet unicorn? Well, that will require all kinds of special instructions.


How do I teach the structure of instruction writing?


The best way to teach the structure of any writing is to read examples together. Show the class good examples of instructions and work together to list all the important parts. They have equipment lists and step-by-step details. Good instructions will also come with an introduction, maybe a warning note and possibly further information for the reader. Making a template is also a good idea, this helps them to remember how it fits together. Finally, make sure to practice as a class using the template before sending them off to do it alone.

  1. Read instructions together
  2. Make notes on the structure
  3. Create a class instructions template
  4. Practice together using the template
  5. Send the kids off to write their own

What are some good examples of instruction writing?

Some great examples of instruction writing can be found on everyday items such as cooking recipes or instructions for household items. Many books have instructions in them without explicitly saying so. David Walliams is very good at this, his books incorporate lots of different types of writing.

Writing your own example before the lesson is also a good option as you can be sure to include all the parts that you want your class to remember.

What resources can I use to teach instructional writing?

There are many examples of instruction writing online, I have a free starter activity for instructional writing on baking a cake here.

If you are looking for a complete lesson, my lesson on how to write instructions for a pet dragon takes the class through the steps and goals of the lesson with a starter video to prompt discussion. If you are looking for more than a one off lesson, my whole unit of instruction writing covers two weeks, 10 lessons, of English work. Starting with exploring different types of instruction writing and building to create their own instructional texts with a purpose.


I also have many lessons on instructions taken from different reading books, such as instructions on how to pull off a robbery for Gangsta Granny and how to have a bath in a pond from Mr Stink.

Teaching instruction writing tips

  • Don’t feel you have to stick to everyday actions – the more unusual the more scope for writing.
  • Give lots of examples – the learning happens with the reading first
  • Have fun with the lesson – practice the instructions first or act out the more fantasy-related examples.
  • Practice together as a class – getting used to the idea of writing in this way takes lots of repetition.
  • Give the children prompts and scaffolded texts to work from – holding everything in memory is hard!

  Check out my free resources and classroom activities here 

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