What is instruction text?

Instruction text
We read instruction texts on an everyday basis. In primary school your child will be taught to recognise the main features and write increasingly complicated instruction texts as part of their non-fiction literacy work.

What is an instruction text?

An instruction text is a text that explains to someone how to do something, such as bake a cake, play a game or work a DVD player.

How are instruction texts taught in primary school?

Children will be shown a range of instruction texts, such as recipes, manuals and game instructions. They will discuss the features of instruction texts:

  • clear layout
  • a 'You will need' list which explains what ingredients or tools are required
  • numbered points
  • 'bossy' verbs (imperative verbs) such as 'put', 'take', 'mix', 'spread'
  • Instruction texts also often use time connectives at the start of each numbered point ('First', 'Next', 'Then' and 'Lastly').

In class, children may be given some instructions to follow and be asked to discuss how effective they are. This helps them to understand the importance of clear and comprehensive instructions.

Children will then be asked to draft their own instruction text. This could be related to something they are doing at school (for example, if they are making puppets, they might write an instruction text explaining how to do this). A teacher may give them a writing frame with boxes and numbers to help them set out their writing. Children will be asked to edit and improve their writing if they have forgotten any of the main features, or if some of their instructions do not make sense.

The aim of an instruction text is to be clear and concise, rather than descriptive.

As children move up the school, they may be expected to write more complicated instruction texts, with detailed labelled diagrams (for example, they may be asked to write an instruction text on how to use a camera).

Read our parents' guide for details of all non-fiction texts studied in primary school.