Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

English Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Have you ever wondered?

Teacher Anne Girven





5-6 3 3-4 weeks


Achievement Objective Being Assessed

Learning Outcomes

Transactional Writing  Write explanations and factual accounts expressing a personal viewpoint and sequencing ideas logically.
 Making Sense of the Living World  Explain, using information from personal observation and research, where and how spiders live.


 Exploring Language  Identify, discuss and use the conventions, structures, and language features of an explanation and discuss how they relate to the topic.
 Thinking Critically  Discuss and convey meanings in written explanation texts, exploring relevant experiences.

Supporting Achievement Objective

Learning Outcomes

 Interpersonal Speaking and Listening  Talk clearly in small groups about experiences and information gathered about spiders.
Interact with others in group/class discussions.
 Close Reading  Read closely, identifying the specific language features of an explanation and discussing how they provide meaning to the text.


Teacher background reading

Teaching and learning activities

Select and adapt these learning activities to best meet the needs of your students, and to fit the time available:

Learning task 1

Learning task 2

Learning task 3

Learning task 4


schedule (RTF 21KB)
self_assessment (RTF 230KB)
National Exemplar Project: Explanation




  • Graham, M. B. (1967). Be Nice to Spiders. Harper Collins.
  • Back, C. (1996). Spiders' Web. Silver-Burdett .
  • Kirk, D. (1994). Miss Spider's Tea Party. Scholastic Inc.
  • Podendorf, I. (1982). Spiders: "A New True Book". Children's Press.
  • Carle, E. (1984). The Very Busy Spider. New York: Scholastic Inc.
  • Gabolinscy, J. & Coombe, M. (2002). The Spiders. Auckalnd: Heinemann Education.
  • Derewianka, B. (1990). Exploring how texts work. Sydney: Primary Teaching Association
    • Explanations (p 57)
    • Summary of Text Features (p 60-62)
    • Use of Nouns - Explanations (p 64-65)
  • Wing Jan, L. (1991) Write ways: modelling writing forms. Melbourne: Oxford University Press
    • Explanations/Learning Experiences (p 50)
    • Activities Explanations (p 52-57)
  • Ministry of Education (1996). The learner as a reader. NZ: Learning Media.
    • Explanations - features (p 114)
    • Transactional Texts (p 112)
  • Knapp, P. & Watkins, W. (1994) Context - text - grammar. NSW: Text productions
    • Explanations (p 76-77)
    • Structure of Explanations (p 78-80)
    • Structure and Grammar (p 86-87)
    • Scaffolding (p 87)
    • Grammatical Features (p 81-83)
    • Tips for Teaching Explanations (p 85)

Follow up

Close Reading - Fiction - Shared / Guided Reading

Read a selection of spider stories, eg. Anansi the Spider. Discuss what students have found out from the stories about spiders. Students work in pairs noting information, explanations from their reading. Discuss and compare the information from their readings of "spider" fiction and non-fiction.

School Journals (Learning Media):

  • The Spiders Gift 1999 Story Library
  • Spider's Web 1999 Junior Journal
  • Spiders 1993 Part 1 No 2

Other Spider Stories:

Using the information learned during the reading sessions, teacher model writing a myth to explain a natural phenomenon. See the Myths and Legends unit.

Published on: 26 May 2009