3 Tips for Teaching How To Write a Paragraph

3 Tips for Teaching How To Write a Paragraph

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For kids, learning how to write a paragraph can be hard. Really hard. My kids read a ton everyday, so I figured this meant they had a pretty good understanding of what a paragraph entailed. I remember (years ago) when it came time to learn how to write a paragraph, I assigned them to write one about their favorite video game.

I assumed because they always had their nose buried in a book that it would be a breeze.

Y’all, it was a total train wreck.

Like, call in reinforcements because we’ve got a serious mess, here.

What do you mean indent the first line? What do you mean by topic sentence? What do you mean….

So we had a little work ahead of us. Here are a few of the tips and explanations I used to help my sons grasp just how to put a paragraph together.

Tip #1 for teaching how to write a paragraph: the cheeseburger method

The cheeseburger method of explaining how to write a paragraph, as well as the many variations on the cheeseburger method, have been around for quite awhile.

In food world with a decent cheeseburger, you’ve got a top bun, some meat and fixins, and a bottom bun. In writing world with a decent paragraph, you’ve got a…

How to write a paragraph

how to write a paragraph

how to write a paragraph
Just as a great cheeseburger needs two buns and some good stuff in the middle, you need the same kind of things to make a great paragraph. And for my very visual and hungry boys, this was just the explanation they needed to start thinking about paragraphs in the right way.

(Note: As my sons got older, we started thinking about paragraphs as more of an upside down open-faced sandwich. Because in real life, if every paragraph had a conclusion sentence, reading would be very, very, repetitive.)

Tip #2 for teaching how to write a paragraph: helping kids figure out that pesky topic sentence.

Another surprise to me was how difficult the concept of a topic sentence was. Figuring out that topic sentence is (apparently) hard! It didn’t matter how I tried to explain it to my boys, they couldn’t quite grasp what I was getting at. So I wrote this on the board:

how to write a paragraph
Is this a paragraph?  I asked the boys.

They were confused because although it looked like a paragraph, they agreed that the actual sentences together didn’t make sense.

Yes, I said. Because when a paragraph starts out with I really like living on a farm, the following sentences should really be about…

Living on a farm! they both said.

Yep. That is because “I really like living on a farm” is a topic sentence.

Oh! I get it! they said.

(I literally saw the light bulb switch on over their heads. It was a beautiful moment.)

Now that we understood topic sentences, we wrote a real paragraph—with the topic and conclusions in blue and the “meaty details” in brown. 🙂

how to write a paragraph

Tip #3 for teaching how to write a paragraph: putting mixed up sentences in order.

Just to see if the boys could put together their own paragraphs, I mixed up some sentences to see if they could identify the “buns” and the “meaty details”.

how to write a paragraph
 They could totally do it. We had success!

how to write a paragraphIt’s always fun to figure out new ways to teach something, especially if it’s something that’s tricky to understand! (Check out another post of ours on a challenging part of teaching writing: Learning to Restate the Question.)

Struggling with teaching your kids how to write a paragraph? Never fear. Cheeseburgers (and other things) are here to help. 


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