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Recount Writing

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Last updated by Jill Hammonds


Recount Writing Style

The purpose of this style of writing is to recall an event or experience for the reader's information or enjoyment.  It differs from a narrative in that the events are portrayed in chronological order - in the order in which they occurred rather than manipulated for maximum impact or drama.

Recounts can be personal (where the reteller is the subject of the recount), factual (an incident such as an experiment or a report on an event) or imaginative where the writer invents a role to recount an experience (e.g. a day in the life of a dishmop.)

Writers should remember that while the purpose is to retell they still need to craft their retelling to be interesting to the reader.  Rather than retelling every minor detail, the writer needs to select the important information  or events, and expand on these in an interesting manner.  If you were recounting a sports day, you could focus on the place, time, events and results (which may be appropriate for a report), but to interest the reader think about what would lift this above the dreary detail - What was the highlight of the day for you?  How did you feel when you tripped just before the finish line?  Did anything funny or surprising occur?


Recount Features
Click on the graphic to download a copy.

  • Focuses on individual participants or events - recounted from one person's perspective
  • Events in chronological order (the order they happened)
  • Can use features such as dialogue and description to embellish the retelling


A recount usually has a title that gives an indication of the subject of the recount e.g. The Cross Country Race.

The writer provides the necessary background information, details of the event in chronological order and some summary comment that often includes a personal opinion.  The detail helps the reader reconstruct the event in their minds.  The personal comment provides the writer perspective on the event.

English Online provides a particularly good section on the language of a recount:

Recount language

Planning for writing a recount

It is often a good idea to brainstorm all the things that happened in the event or experience, and then select and sequence those that you will use.  I find Popplet a great tool for this - double click anywhere on the screen to add the events and then move into chronological sequence.  You can then add title ideas and personal comments or anecdote.

Brainstorm events

  Resequence to chronological order

 If you want you can then add vocabulary and language features into the Popples to assist the writing stage.

  Adding vocabulary and language features

e-Learning Tools to Support

There are also many apps and web 2.0 tools that can assist with the stages of their writing.

Popplet web 2.0 tool and Popplet Lite iPad app (free)
Bubbl.us (free)
CMap Tools download (free)
Mindmeister (free trial only)
InspirationKidspirationMy Webspiration (30 day free trial only)

eBook tools
Book Creator is a free iPad app that allows for inclusion of text, images and sound in creating eBooks.
Storyjumper is a free web 2.0 tool to make eBooks - very similar to Book Creator but uses Flash so not available on iPads.
Comic and Meme Creator is a free Android app for making eBooks.
Powerpoint or Keynote can also be used to create eBooks, with action buttons being used to create pick-a-path stories.

A recount does not always require illustration, but for some audiences or some formats, such as eBooks, illustrations could well enhance the retelling.  Some students also excel in art but struggle with writing, so illustrating their work gives them a greater chance of producing something of which they can be proud. Illustrations could be drawn freehand and then scanned or photographed for inclusion in a book or eBook, or they could be drawn on computer using free web 2.0 tools or apps.  Check out:
Artrage - natural painting software - free demo version or purchase for Mac or Windows $49.99, iPad app $4.99 or iPhone app $1.99
SketchupMake - to make 3D drawings - free for educational use in primary and secondary
Tux Paint - free open source art programme for kids - available for Mac, PC, iPad and Blackberry Playbook & other.
Kid Pix Deluxe 4 for Schools - Paint and slideshow programme for kids
Kid Pix 3D - free 15 day trial of the 3D version


Attendance at an actual event often yields good digital photos to add to the recount.  These can be cropped, rotated and enhanced using free software or apps.  Check out Gimp for Macs, Photoscape for Windows, Photo Editor HD Lite for iPads or Aviary's free Photo Editor for Android mobiles.  Alternatively check out the Software for Learning site or do a Google search for "free photo editor" apps or software and you'll find plenty.


Links to resources

English Online Recount Writing

Exemplars - http://www.tki.org.nz/r/assessment/exemplars/eng/personal/index.html

e-asTTle has specific exemplars for recount writing included on their Marking resources section in downloadable pdf format.