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Year 2, 3 and 4 Non-fiction: Mixed-age planning – Explanation

This is a mixed-age planning unit for Year 2, 3 and 4. This unit could be the second or third non-fiction unit. This unit can be linked to other areas of the curriculum such as science (life processes) or design technology.

The unit has two alternative outcomes to suit the maturity and attainment of the cohort. The older or higher-attaining children can work towards their own written version of an explanation text or write an explanation to go with a flow chart created by the other pupils. Younger children can use visual representations that model a process such as a simple flow chart or cyclical diagram.

Extension for older or higher-attaining pupils includes organising texts into paragraphs and using key structural features appropriate to explanatory writing. During guided reading these children could read and investigate three different text types so that they can distinguish between explanatory texts, reports and recounts.


Read and analyse explanatory texts to identify key features. Use drama and other media to explore a process. Children record the process in written and/or diagrammatical form.

1998 framework objectives covered

Year 2, Term 2: Term19 read flow charts and cyclical diagrams that explain a process; Term 21 produce simple flow charts or diagrams that explain a process.

Year 4, Term 2: Term 20 and Term 24 identify from examples the key features of explanatory texts; improve the cohesion of written explanations through paragraphing and the use of link phrases and organisational devices such as sub-headings and numbering; Term 25 write explanations of a process, using conventions identified through reading.

Progression in Years 2, 3 and 4

Phase 1: Read a range of explanatory texts including written and visual. Investigate and record the key features of explanation texts. Discuss how charts, labels and captions are used in explanatory texts.

Phase 2: Children work in pairs to explain a process or answer a question orally. Use a film clip that shows a machine at work, for example The Shirt Maker. Use role-play to explore how the machine works. Construct a glossary of useful words drawn from this activity, for example piston, cog.

Demonstrate how to organise stages in a process using time and causal connectives.

Phase 3: Use a diagrammatic plan and oral rehearsal to support the writing of an explanation text. Older or higher-attaining children write explanatory texts from a flow chart or other diagrammatic plan, using the conventions modelled in shared writing. Others construct a pictorial flow chart of how their machine works.

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  • Year 2, 3 and 4 Non-fiction: Mixed-age planning – Explanation