The following lessons are
ones that I developed to teach my students how to write a paragraph. I
hope you find them useful!
Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 |
Week 4 |†Week 5
1: Introduction to Paragraphs
The objective of this lesson is
to teach students the proper way to write a paragraph (format, not
a small paragraph on the board and read with the students.† Then
have students copy the paragraph, starting with the thumb-rule.†
Students use their thumb to indent their paragraph.† Have
students repeat the word "indent" and explain that all
paragraphs must be indented.† Demonstrate how they use their
thumbs to indent.
The students practice copying paragraphs the rest of the week.†
Review capitalization and punctuation rules.† This activity is
used for handwriting practice as well.† The reason I stress
practice is that many students will start a new sentence on the next
line instead of continuing to the end of the paper.† Many of my
students have a difficult time going to the end of the paper because
they have been taught to start new sentences on the next
2: Identifying Main Idea/Topic Sentences and Supporting Sentences
The objective of this lesson is
to teach students how to identify the main idea of paragraphs and the
purpose of a topic sentence.
Main Idea: Copy a short paragraph onto the
board/transparency/chart paper.† Have the students read the
paragraph aloud.† Ask students what the paragraph is about.†
Once they have correctly answered, ask the students if there were any
sentences that told them what the paragraph would be about.† They
should answer that all of the sentences talk about the main
idea.††Next, have props or pictures of a theme, such as
school supplies (notebook, pencil, textbook) and have students ask
what the props/pictures are about (or what the big idea is).†
Have prepared 3-4 lunch bags with pictures and/or props and place
students in cooperative groups.† Each group receives a bag, takes
out the items, and discuss what the idea is. On a sheet of paper, they
write their answer.† Then bags are exchanged until each group has
received all the bags and written down their ideas.† Then as a
class, review the contents in each bag and discuss the main idea of
each bag.† Click here for some main ideas and items you can use
with this activity.† Click on the picture below to download a
worksheet for classroom/homework use:
Topic Sentence:† Now that students are aware that paragraphs
talk about one main idea,† introducing the topic sentence should
be easy.† Have all students use a green crayon/marker/pen etc for
this next activity.† Have students copy a short paragraph.†
Ask students what the main idea is.† Then explain that all
paragraphs have a topic sentence, which tells the reader what the
paragraph will be about.† Ask students to identify the topic
sentence (sometimes I hint that the topic sentence is at the beginning
of the paragraph) Have the students use the green crayon to underline
the topic sentence.† Next, prepare three paragraphs on separate
chart/poster papers.† Leave out the topic sentence and in its
place draw a green line. On sentence strips, write the topic sentence
of each paragraph.† Post the three paragraphs on the
wall/board.† Tell the students that each paragraph is missing its
topic sentence.† Place the sentence strips with the topic
sentences in a visible spot by the charts.† Have the students
read the paragraphs and the topic sentences. Using tape, have students
place the topic sentences onto the correct paragraph. Then
review.†††† Extension Activity: For
the rest of the week, the students copy or receive worksheets with
short paragraphs.† Using a green crayon or marker, students must
underline the topic sentences.† Click on the two worksheets below
for samples and practice.
the activity on identifying main ideas.† Point out the the items
talked about the main idea.† Post some short paragraphs or use
previous paragraphs from the lesson above.† Have students
underline the topic sentence with a green crayon/marker.† Next,
ask students to underline the sentences that give details about the
topic sentence using a yellow crayon/marker.† To further extend
this concept, have students read paragraphs that contain sentences
that do not belong.† Here is an example:
A New Pet
I would like to have a new pet.† I have a cat and a
dog.† Goldfish and birds would be good pets.† Birthdays
are fun.† Maybe I will get a hamster or a rabbit.
Students rewrite the paragraphs making sure to omit the sentence that does
These activities are
only a preparation for the Traffic Signal System that they learn in Weeks
3 & 4.† You will understand why when you read the next part:
3 & 4: Learning Parts of a Paragraph (Traffic Signal System)
GO = Topic Sentence: The
sentence that tells what the paragraph will be about.
CONTINUE = Supporting Sentences: These sentences add
details to the topic sentence.
STOP = Ending Sentence: This sentence closes the
paragraph.† It tells the reader that the paragraph is
Click to get a printable traffic
Green, yellow, and red construction paper strips, large traffic light
chart (see above), traffic light worksheet for each student.
each student 1 green strip, 3 yellow strips, and 1 red strip.†
Brainstorm topics with the class and write onto a chart.
Step 2: Choose a topic and explain that students are going to learn
how to write a paragraph using the Traffic Light System.† Point to
the chart and discuss with students that there are three parts to a
paragraph-- a beginning (topic sentence), a middle
(supporting sentences), and an end (ending sentence).
Step 3: Take out a green strip and have students do the same. Have
students come up with a topic sentence based on the topic they have
chosen.† For example, the topic is school.† The topic sentence
is very important.
Everyone writes the
topic sentence on a green strip.† Explain that green means
"go" and we have begun our paragraph.†
Step 4: Have students take out their 3 yellow strips.† Explain
that they have to think of three supporting sentences, or sentences that
will are about the topic sentence.† Write the students' sentences the
learn how to read books.
teach you how to add and subtract.
learn how to write and use computers.
students write the three sentences onto their yellow strips.
Step 5: Explain to students that they now have to close/finish/end
the paragraph or STOP.† Ending sentences
can (a) repeat the topic sentence in a different way, (b) express how we
feel about the topic, (c) express what we think about the topic.
is important to go to school. (repeating topic sentence)
love going to school. (expresses feeling)
think school is important for kids. (expresses thoughts)
6: Have students place the strips one under the other.