chevron icon chevron icon

Mastering primary English writing with 5W1H: A recipe for success

Mastering primary English writing with 5W1H: A recipe for success

When students write compositions, they often struggle with two things. 

First, they have a hard time coming up with enough things to write about. 

Second, they struggle with making their writing flow smoothly. 

So, in this article, we will focus on the 5WH1 writing technique that will solve both of these problems for your child and will make their writing go from:

"A cat climbed a tree."


"Earlier today, a mischievous little cat named Whiskers climbed a tall oak tree in our backyard, curiously exploring the branches and swaying in the gentle breeze."

What is 5W1H?

5W1H stands for Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. It is a framework used to gather and organise information. By addressing these fundamental questions, students can ensure they cover all essential aspects of a topic in their compositions. Each of the Ws and the H represents a key element that helps generate details for their composition.

Why is 5W1H important for primary English compositions?

Using 5W1H in primary English compositions helps students develop a systematic approach to writing. It encourages them to think critically, gather relevant information, and organise their thoughts effectively. By addressing the fundamental questions, students can create well-rounded compositions that engage readers and provide a comprehensive understanding of the topic.

How to use 5W1H effectively in primary English compositions

Step 1: Start with the basics - Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How

Before diving into the composition, your child should begin by identifying the key elements using the 5W1H framework. Encourage them to ask questions like:

  • Who is the main character or subject of the composition?
  • What is the main event, topic, or idea they want to write about?
  • Where does the story take place?
  • When did the event occur?
  • Why is the subject or event significant or important?
  • How did the subject or event unfold, and how does it relate to the composition?

Step 2: Brainstorm and gather information

Once your child has a clear understanding of the 5W1H elements, they can start brainstorming and gathering relevant information. To put it simply, in this step they need to answer all of the questions from step 1.

Step 3: Organise their ideas and create an outline

Next, encourage your child to organise their ideas and create an outline based on the 5W1H elements. Each section of the outline should correspond to one of the Ws or the H. This structure will help ensure that they cover all essential aspects of their composition.

Step 4: Expand and elaborate on each section

Now, they can expand and elaborate on each section of their outline. 

They can do this by providing detailed information, descriptions, examples, and explanations that relate to the specific W or H they're addressing. Use vivid language and engage the reader's senses to make the composition more captivating.

Step 5: Revise and edit the composition

After completing your initial draft, take the time to revise and edit the composition. Check for coherence, clarity, grammar, and punctuation errors. Ensure that each section of the composition contributes to the overall flow and structure. Make necessary revisions to improve the readability and impact of the writing.

Tips for incorporating 5W1H in primary English compositions

Tip 1: Use descriptive language and vivid details

Incorporate descriptive language and vivid details to engage the reader's imagination. Paint a picture with the words, using sensory details to make the composition come alive. This will help create a memorable reading experience.

Tip 2: Create engaging introductions and conclusions

Start the composition with an engaging introduction that hooks the reader and clearly establishes the main theme or purpose. Similarly, end with a strong conclusion that summarises the key points and leaves a lasting impression.

Tip 3: Practice using 5W1H in different writing exercises

To become proficient in using the 5W1H framework, challenge your child to write compositions on different topics using the 5W1H structure. This practice will strengthen their skills and make it easier to apply the technique in future compositions.

Common challenges and how to overcome them

Challenge 1: Generating enough details for each section

Sometimes, students struggle to come up with enough details for each part of the 5W1H framework. To solve this, they can learn brainstorming techniques like mind maps to generate ideas. Also, encourage them to read more books, which will help them understand how authors come up with details.

Challenge 2: Maintaining coherence and flow in your composition

When incorporating the 5W1H framework, it's important to ensure that the composition maintains coherence and flow. To overcome this challenge, encourage your child to form a habit of reviewing their composition for logical transitions between sections. Use connecting words, such as "however," "moreover," or "therefore," to link ideas and maintain a smooth flow of information.

Examples of using 5W1H in primary English compositions

Example 1: Writing a personal narrative

Let's say your child wants to write a personal narrative about a memorable vacation. Here's how they can incorporate the 5W1H elements:

  • Who: Introduce yourself as the main character and narrator.
  • What: Describe the vacation and the main event or experience that made it memorable.
  • Where: Provide details about the destination, including the specific location, landmarks, or attractions visited.
  • When: Mention the timeframe of the vacation, whether it was during the summer, winter, or a specific month.
  • Why: Explain why this vacation was significant to you and what you gained from the experience.
  • How: Elaborate on the activities, adventures, or challenges you encountered during the vacation.

By addressing each of these elements, you will create a well-rounded personal narrative that engages readers and allows them to immerse themselves in your experience.

Example 2: Describing a place or event

Suppose they want to describe a local festival in your town. Here's how they can incorporate the 5W1H elements:

  • Who: Introduce the festival organisers, participants, and attendees.
  • What: Describe the festival, its purpose, and the main activities or events that take place.
  • Where: Provide details about the festival location, such as the park, street, or community centre.
  • When: Specify the dates and duration of the festival, whether it's an annual event or a one-time occurrence.
  • Why: Explain the significance of the festival to the community, its cultural or historical importance, or the reasons behind its celebration.
  • How: Elaborate on the preparations, decorations, performances, and traditions associated with the festival.

By incorporating the 5W1H elements, your child can create a vivid and comprehensive description that captures the essence of the festival and engages their readers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can my child use 5W1H in other types of writing?

Absolutely! The 5W1H framework is applicable to various forms of writing, including essays, reports, news articles, and even creative writing. It helps ensure that they cover all essential aspects of a topic and provide comprehensive information to their readers.

2: How can my child improve their brainstorming skills?

To improve their brainstorming skills, your child can try techniques like mind mapping, free writing, or listing. These methods can help them generate ideas, make connections between concepts, and overcome writer's block.

3: Are there any alternatives to using 5W1H?

While 5W1H is a widely used framework, there are alternative approaches to organising information, such as the inverted pyramid structure or the problem-solution format. Experiment with different methods to find the one that works best for your child’s writing style.

Exam Preparation
icon collapse icon expand Latest Articles
icon collapse icon expand Latest Articles
Book a free product demo
Suitable for primary & secondary
select dropdown icon
Our Education Consultants will get in touch with you to offer your child a complimentary Strength Analysis.
Book a free product demo
Suitable for primary & secondary