The next step in creating a paragraph comes in developing the ideas worked out during brainstorming. This is the next activity in my summer paragraph writing studies - building a paragraph sandwich.
My boys love sandwiches. In fact, during the school year, their favorite after school snack is a sandwich. Paragraphs are a lot like sandwiches — the topic and concluding sentences are the bread, and everything else becomes the filling. This type of analogy has helped my third grader better understand how to organize his paragraphs. This is the activity I used to introduce and reinforce this concept with him this summer.
Activity Two: Building a Paragraph Sandwich
Objective: to help children understand how a paragraph is organized and structured.
One Paragraph Sandwich Worksheet, available here, for each child.
One completed Paragraph Brainstorming Worksheet, for each child.
Begin by handing the children the Paragraph Brainstorming Worksheet from the last lesson. Explain that now we are going take the ideas that they worked out and organize them into a complete paragraph. Be sure to tell the children that grammar, spelling, and mechanics are not important at this point in the writing process. They need to focus on getting their ideas on to the paper and making sure their ideas make sense (logical) and are presented in a way that is easily understood.
Now, explain to the children that a good paragraph is like a sandwich. A paragraph is started with a good topic sentence and concluded with a good wrapping up sentence – much like the bread from which a sandwich is made. In between the two “slices of bread” is the “meat” of the paragraph. Paragraphs usually have three supporting sentences. These sentences give detail and support the topic sentence. They are what make the paragraph“tasty”, like the meat, cheese, and other toppings in a sandwich. Sometimes there are more supporting sentences, and sometimes there are fewer supporting sentences. But for right now, explain that the children need to have at least three supporting sentence.
Give each child the Paragraph Sandwich Worksheet. Explain that they need to take each idea from the completed brainstorming worksheet, and develop them into complete sentences. The “big idea” becomes the topic sentence — the top piece of the bread. Each supporting detail becomes a supporting sentence in the toppings area of the sandwich. Finally, the “wrapping up” sentence becomes the concluding sentence — or the bottom piece of the bread.
Finally, have each child write the sentences on the paragraph lines below the sandwich in order. That’s all the children need to do with the paragraph for this lesson. Again, chunking writing into smaller sections makes learning these skills easier for elementary aged children.
My third grader really liked the concept of writing a “sandwich.” He thought the idea helped to make the structure of the paragraph easier to create. His paragraph is coming along. The next lesson will involve gentle editing. Once we’ve completed that step, then he’ll be publishing his finished paragraph for my readers.