Expository Writing: Introduction

Contributor: Delaine Thomas. Lesson ID: 12316

Have you or your parents ever tried to put together a toy or piece of furniture and couldn't figure out the instructions? Frustrating, isn't it? Learn how to explain just what you mean when you write!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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When I was a little girl, my favorite thing to do was to go fishing with my dad.

  • What is your favorite thing to do?
  • Can you explain to me why you like it and how I can do it, too?

Then, we can share the fun!

Expository writing explains a topic by telling how something is done, how something works, or by explaining what something is.

An expository essay includes an introductory paragraph with a topic sentence, at least one body paragraph with details, and a concluding paragraph.

Explaining in detail an activity you enjoy, or how to do that activity, is an example of expository writing.

Take out a piece of paper and pencil and take some notes as you watch Writing an Expository Essay from Mometrix Academy:

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Before you jump into a full, five-paragraph essay, start with one paragraph that has all the same elements.

Begin by looking at the big picture, then shrink the paragraphs into sentences to create one well-written expository paragraph.

  1. So, your first step is deciding on a topic and how to approach the topic.

For example, you might decide that you want to write about cupcakes.

  • What exactly do you want your reader to know about cupcakes?

You can write about how to make a particular kind of cupcake, or maybe how to select the best cupcakes from a bakery, or even the history of cupcakes. The point is, you need to have a very specific idea of what type of information you want to provide to your reader.

  1. When you write an expository essay, the next thing you will do after deciding on a topic is to write your introductory paragraph.

You want to include a hook that will grab your reader's attention before presenting your topic sentence.

  • How can you get your readers excited about learning why popcorn is the best snack food?

First Paragraph or Opening

Write a topic sentence that tells your readers, in an interesting way, what they will be learning by reading your paper

You also want to use examples to explain to your reader why it is important for him or her to know this information.

  • Supporting Idea 1: This might be because popcorn is easy to make.
  • Supporting Idea 2: This might be because popcorn is good for you.
  • Supporting Idea 3: This might be because popcorn tastes good.

(If you are writing an essay, you will need a closing or transitional sentence at the end of each paragraph.)

  1. In the following paragraphs, you will provide reasons that support your topic, or give a set of sequential steps if you are explaining how to do something.

When you are supplying your readers with reasons, you will start with the least important reason and build in each paragraph, with the last paragraph being the most important reason (or the final step).

For example, if you decide to explain to your reader why popcorn is the best snack food, you may want to complete a pre-writing outline such as the one that follows:

Body Paragraphs or Sentences (All body paragraphs or sentences will have the same format.)

Begin with your least-important idea, as presented in the first paragraph or sentence, and build up to your strongest or most-important idea.

When writing a full essay, each opening sentence will now become the topic sentence of each of your body paragraphs. You will want to present this information in an exciting way, much like you did your topic.

Supporting Evidence and Details

You will now include some details about your ideas or information. Use examples and anecdotes (stories) to help your reader to understand what you are explaining.

Continue this format with all your body paragraphs and use the same formula above for your concluding paragraph.

Concluding Paragraph or Sentence

In an essay, you would use the concluding paragraph to restate your topic in a fresh, new way; restate your most important ideas; and add a closing statement that makes your reader want to take action.

When closing your paragraph, you want to roughly do the same -- make your reader feel as though he or she has learned something or get them interested in your topic.

This format also works to explain how things work, or why something is the way it is, or why you like something.

For this lesson, as you focus on writing about something you enjoy doing, ask the question "Why?" for the outline process.

You will need to answer the "because" and offer good supporting details and anecdotes to support your reasons.

For now, you don't need to be quite so detailed because each outline section labeled "paragraph" will only need to be a sentence or two.

This pre-writing activity will help you craft your essay once you have decided on your topic and purpose.

  • Are you ready to get started?

Move on to the Got It? section and practice completing some "because" statements.

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