A five sentence paragraph is the first type of paragraph taught to elementary school students. Learning how to write this basic type of paragraph is the building block for all future writing. A five sentence paragraph consists of a main idea sentence, three sentences that explain the main idea with reasons, details or facts and a concluding sentence.
To begin, the elementary student puts her ideas down on paper in a web centered around the main idea. She puts the main topic of the paragraph in the middle of the paper. Ask her to write a web of ideas around the main topic. For instance, if she is writing a paragraph about her trip to an amusement park, she writes the names of her favorite rides, the characters she saw at the park, the parades and the shows she saw in a web around the main idea, "My Trip to the Amusement Park."
Teaching the child to make an outline gives him structure to write the paragraph. Show him how to write a spaghetti and meatball outline. The spaghetti is the main idea. He draws a spaghetti noodle and writes the main idea in five words or less. The meatballs are the reasons, details, or facts that further explain the main idea. When he writes the meatball entries, they can be in incomplete sentences. In the amusement park example, amusement park trip is the spaghetti. Roller coaster, hugging the princess and the nightly parade are the details that explain the spaghetti. The last noodle is the concluding sentence.
Write the Paragraph
Now that the ideas have been recorded and the outline has been created, the paragraph is ready to write. Turn each of the spaghetti noodles and meatballs from the outline into a complete sentence. Use transition words -- first, next, finally -- with each of the meatballs, or reasons, details or facts. Use a concluding word with the last noodle -- the concluding sentence. Concluding words -- "in conclusion," "as you can see," "clearly" -- are words to use in the final sentence.
Look It Over
Once the sentences are written, ask the child to look over and read the paragraph. She should make sure the sentences all start with a capital letter. Ask her to make sure each sentence has a period, question mark or exclamation point. When she reads the paragraph, she should make sure it makes sense and fulfills the purpose of the paragraph.
Susan Rickey started writing in 1994 with a technology feature article for the "Pioneer Press." She was the writer of the Klamath Forest Alliance newsletter, an environmental organization. Rickey obtained her teaching credential from California State University and acquired her Bachelor of Science from the University of Arkansas.