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Identify the Key Features of an Explanatory Text

In this worksheet, students read an explanatory text and answer questions to help them identify its key features.

'Identify the Key Features of an Explanatory Text' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:  Reading: Comprehension

Curriculum subtopic:  Understand Structure and Purpose

Difficulty level:  

down

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

An explanatory text (sometimes called an explanation) is a type of non-fiction text that explains a process (for example, how something works or why something happens).

 

Read this example of an explanatory text.

 

The life cycle of a butterfly

 

The life of a butterfly is divided into four stages: egg, larva, pupa and butterfly. The four stages are called the life cycle of the butterfly.

 

 

Stage One: The egg

A butterfly begins life as an egg. Most eggs are laid on the leaves of plants. They can be round, oval or even cylindrical in shape depending on the type of butterfly that laid them.

 

 

Stage Two: The larva (or caterpillar)

Inside the egg is a larva, which is known as a caterpillar. When it is ready, the larva hatches and eats the leaf its egg was laid on. It then continues eating for most of its short life. The larva's skin cannot stretch as it grows, so it keeps shedding its skin and growing a new one.

 

 

Stage Three: The pupa (or chrysalis)

When it has finished growing, the larva turns itself into a pupa, which is also called a chrysalis. The pupa is like a case to enclose the larva while it changes itself into a butterfly. The larva does not eat while it is in the pupa, but it gradually changes its body and grows wings.

 

 

Stage Four: The butterfly

Finally, when it is ready, an adult butterfly emerges from the pupa. At first its wings are soft because they have been folded up inside the pupa, but after it has rested, the butterfly pumps blood through them so that it is ready to fly.

 

 

The butterfly then goes looking for a mate and lays its eggs on a leaf so that the whole cycle can begin again.

An explanatory text is written to answer questions such as how or why things happen. Which question is being answered in this text?

Where do butterflies live?

What do butterflies eat?

What are the stages of a butterfly's life?

The first paragraph of an explanation usually contains a general statement to introduce the subject of the text. Click on the Help button to look at the explanation again.

 

What information is given in the first paragraph?

Caterpillars turn into butterflies.

A larva eats the leaf it is born on.

A butterfly's life has four stages.

After the opening statement, an explanation then goes on to describe the process in more detail. Each paragraph deals with one aspect of the topic.

 

There is often a final paragraph summing up the information that has been described. This is called a closing statement. 

 

Put the paragraphs into their correct order. (Don't forget that you can look back at the text by clicking the Help button!)

Column A

Column B

paragraph 1
the butterfly
paragraph 2
the egg
paragraph 3
opening statement
paragraph 4
the pupa
paragraph 5
the larva
paragraph 6
closing statement

An explanation is usually written in the present tense (the butterfly lays an egg) rather than the past tense (the butterfly laid an egg).

 

Read the following sentences. They are all taken from the text except one, which is written in the past tense instead of the present tense. Tick the odd one out.

A butterfly begins life as an egg.

The larva does not eat while it is in the pupa.

At first its wings were soft.

When it is ready, the larva hatches.

Explanatory texts often contain time connectives to help show the order that things happen. Which of the following time connectives can you find in the text?

 

Tick five boxes.

as soon as

when

later

while

finally

next

at first

after

Another type of connective often found in an explanatory text is a causal connective. This is a connective that helps explain why something happens.

 

Which of these causal connectives can you find in the text? Tick two boxes.

because

otherwise

so

in order to

Explanations often have pictures, photos or diagrams as well as writing. Why is this?

They make the explanation look brighter.

They help the readers to understand the text.

Writing on its own is boring.

Which of the following things are usually features of explanations?

 

Tick four boxes.

They explain how or why things happen.

They are fiction.

They often contain time connectives.

They are written in the past tense.

They often contain pictures or diagrams to help the reader.

They contain facts.

  • Question 1

An explanatory text is written to answer questions such as how or why things happen. Which question is being answered in this text?

CORRECT ANSWER
What are the stages of a butterfly's life?
EDDIE SAYS
The text is about the four different stages in the life of a butterfly.
  • Question 2

The first paragraph of an explanation usually contains a general statement to introduce the subject of the text. Click on the Help button to look at the explanation again.

 

What information is given in the first paragraph?

CORRECT ANSWER
A butterfly's life has four stages.
EDDIE SAYS
The opening paragraph tells the reader that the life of a butterfly is divided into four stages.
  • Question 3

After the opening statement, an explanation then goes on to describe the process in more detail. Each paragraph deals with one aspect of the topic.

 

There is often a final paragraph summing up the information that has been described. This is called a closing statement. 

 

Put the paragraphs into their correct order. (Don't forget that you can look back at the text by clicking the Help button!)

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

paragraph 1
opening statement
paragraph 2
the egg
paragraph 3
the larva
paragraph 4
the pupa
paragraph 5
the butterfly
paragraph 6
closing statement
EDDIE SAYS
The paragraphs should be in a logical order. It would be silly to describe the egg, then the butterfly, then the pupa and then the larva!
  • Question 4

An explanation is usually written in the present tense (the butterfly lays an egg) rather than the past tense (the butterfly laid an egg).

 

Read the following sentences. They are all taken from the text except one, which is written in the past tense instead of the present tense. Tick the odd one out.

CORRECT ANSWER
At first its wings were soft.
EDDIE SAYS
The sentence should read like this: 'At first its wings are soft'.
  • Question 5

Explanatory texts often contain time connectives to help show the order that things happen. Which of the following time connectives can you find in the text?

 

Tick five boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
when
while
finally
at first
after
EDDIE SAYS
Time connectives are a good way of making sure that the points of an explanation are in the right order.
  • Question 6

Another type of connective often found in an explanatory text is a causal connective. This is a connective that helps explain why something happens.

 

Which of these causal connectives can you find in the text? Tick two boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
because
so
EDDIE SAYS
These connectives are good for giving reasons why things happen.
  • Question 7

Explanations often have pictures, photos or diagrams as well as writing. Why is this?

CORRECT ANSWER
They help the readers to understand the text.
EDDIE SAYS
Although they do brighten up a text, the main reason for including pictures and diagrams is to help readers understand what the explanation is about.
  • Question 8

Which of the following things are usually features of explanations?

 

Tick four boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
They explain how or why things happen.
They often contain time connectives.
They often contain pictures or diagrams to help the reader.
They contain facts.
EDDIE SAYS
Explanations are usually written in the present tense, not the past tense.
---- OR ----

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