Knowing the parts of a paragraph and how they are put together can help your child to write them well. After that, it’s just a matter of writing good sentences using that structure.
I though I’d share with you some tips and resources that you can use to help your child write a good paragraph. I have included some handy worksheets as well as instructions on how to use the Hamburger Paragraph analogy, an old goodie. Let’s get started.
Parts of a Paragraph
Knowing and identifying the parts of a paragraph can make it easier for a child to write a paragraph. If you think your child needs this, here is a simple worksheet you can use to help him identify these parts.
Indenting a Paragraph
Before starting a paragraph, you child needs to know how to indent. Since there is no tab key on a piece of paper, you can show her how to use her thumb to indent. Tell her to hold up the thumb of the hand she does not write with. Have her put it down to the right of the red margin line. Then have her put a dot to the right of her thumb. This is where her first word will go. Let her know that no other sentences in the paragraph are indented other than the first.
The Hamburger Paragraph
Top Bun – Topic Sentence
Explain to your child that the first sentence of a paragraph tells what the paragraph is about. It’s called a topic sentence. It’s the top bun of the hamburger. It needs to draw the reader in so it should be interesting. That’s why it is often called a hook. It can be a question like, “Did you know that cheetahs are the fastest land mammal on earth?” It can be a fascinating fact like, “Lions are the only member of the large cat family that hunt as a group rather than individually.” It can be a quote like this one. Napoleon said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Your child may not be able to come up with a hook right away. That’s OK. Sometimes it is better for beginners to just start with a simple topic sentence that tells what the paragraph is going to be about. In that case, it might look something like this, “Dolphins are smart animals.” Choose the method which best suits your child.
The Fixings – Details
The next part of the paragraph includes all of the details about the topic. They are the fixings in the hamburger like the lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mayonnaise, pickles, and burger. All of these fixings “support” the top bun, so the details should support the topic. There should be at least 3 of these, but more is even better. After all, who wants a hamburger with just ketchup and mustard.
The Bottom Bun – Concluding Sentence
The last part of the paragraph is the concluding sentence. It is the bottom bun of the hamburger. It can do one of two things. It can restate the topic sentence in a different way. Or it can briefly summarize what was covered in the paragraph.
More advanced writers can use it to create a transition to the next paragraph in longer papers like essays and reports. Teens can learn this skill.
Free Printable Sheets for Hamburger Paragraphs
There are some handy printable worksheets at these websites with a picture of a hamburger for kids to write sentences on. You might want to check them out.
Using Real Examples
There is one more thing you could do to help your child write paragraphs. Show her examples of paragraphs in school books, library books, newspapers, and magazines. This will help her to see how they are organized and written in real life situations.
Those are just some of the ways you can help your child write a good paragraph. Do you know of some others? Please feel free to share in the comment section below.