How to Teach Expository Writing to Elementary School Students

Becoming comfortable with writing now will help children feel more comfortable composing essays when they are older.

The popularity of show and tell in elementary school classrooms indicates that kids love to explain and describe the things in their lives. This is, in general terms, the definition of expository writing: informing, explaining and describing. While expository writing is frequently considered a high school or college level skill, elementary students can learn the elements of good writing in engaging ways. Lessons can require students to write in a focused manner for 15 to 30 minutes, then revise and edit their work, or students can practice these techniques verbally in small groups or in front of the entire class.

Start off with simple descriptions. Have your students describe an object in the room, either written or orally, using as many of the five sense as possible. Bring a collection of strange objects, such as unrecognizable machinery or an unusual fruit, to the classroom to make the activity more fun.

Have your students write descriptive expository pieces from memory. Ask each student to describe her favorite place, the view from her bedroom window or a perfect sunset.

Have your students do some comparative writing by requiring them to compare a sunny day to a rainy day, or a city street with a quiet spot in a park.

Play some expository writing games. For example, have each student describe something without naming it, and have other students read the description and try to guess what the object is.

Do some cause and effect expository writing. Have your students explain why a character in a book did something, or write simple history essays using cause and effect.

Ask each student to describe his best friend. Using as many details as possible, have him describe the way the friend looks, what they do together and why he likes this person.

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