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WT 052 Writing Paragraphs

Teacher Tips and Answers


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Writing Paragraphs

A paragraph is a group of sentences that focus on a single topic. Paragraphs can describe, explain, persuade, or tell a story.

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The Basic Parts of a Paragraph

Most paragraphs have three parts. The topic sentence gives the main idea of the paragraph. The body or middle part supports the main idea. The ending sentence reminds readers what the paragraph is about. Note how these three parts work together.

Making a Snowman

Topic Sentence Making a snowman is easy and fun. First, roll a big snowball for the base. Then roll a medium-sized one for the body and a small-sized one for the head. Body Stack them up! Afterward, give your snowman a hat, some charcoal eyes, a carrot nose, and string for a mouth. Add a scarf and mittens. Don't forget a name. I called mine Freddy. Ending Sentence When you roll up a snowman like Freddy, you make yourself a friend!


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A Closer Look at the Parts

1. The Topic Sentence ● The topic sentence names the topic and provides a special focus or feeling about it.

Topic Sentence

2. The Body ● The sentences in the body include details that support the topic sentence. To organize these details, list them in order, and then follow your list as you write your paragraph.


3. The Ending Sentence ● The last sentence sums up the paragraph and gives readers one final idea to think about.

Ending Sentence

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Types of Paragraphs

There are four basic types of paragraphs: narrative, descriptive, explanatory, and persuasive.

Narrative Paragraph

A narrative paragraph tells a story. This paragraph by Caleb King tells about a scary event on the road. Watch for details that make the story real.


Topic Sentence Dad and I were talking and laughing on our way up I-94 when the driver’s side wheel of the van started to rumble. Interesting details tell the story. I asked what the sound was. “It’s just the road, I hope.” He changed lanes, but the sound just got louder. Then—BOOM! A donut of rubber blew sideways off the tire and hit the concrete median. Dad struggled to steer the three-wheeled van at 60 miles an hour. He reached the shoulder. Ending Sentence There we waited, talking and laughing, until a tow truck finally came to save us.

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Descriptive Paragraph

A descriptive paragraph describes a person, place, or thing. It uses words that help readers see, hear, smell, feel, and taste the topic. As you read the sample, watch for descriptive words.

Adrian’s Custard

Topic Sentence On a hot summer day, Mom and I stepped up to the order window of Adrian’s Custard. Details give sounds, sights, textures, and tastes. “Two double-scoops of strawberry in waffle cones, please.” Air conditioning poured out the order window as Mom set two crumpled fives on the counter. Change jingled in her hand, and we took our cones. I bit mine. The sweet waffle cone crunched, and strawberry custard filled my mouth. We walked, following a cool breeze to the leaf shadows of the park. Ending Sentence Ducks quacked lazily on the river as we sat at an old wooden picnic table and enjoyed our first taste of summer.

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Explanatory Paragraph

An explanatory paragraph explains something or gives directions. The example below explains how to make elephant ears, giving specific instructions.

Transitions or connecting words (first, next, then, finally) can help keep the main ideas in order.

Making Elephant Ears

Topic Sentence It’s fun to make Elephant Ears! First, heat a cup of milk, 1/4 cup butter, 2 tablespoons sugar, and a teaspoon of salt in a pan until the butter melts. Cool to lukewarm and add a packet of yeast. Details explain the subject. Next, mix in flour to form a dough. In a different pant, heat two cups of oil until it is hot. Then take a fist-sized ball of dough and work it flat like an elephant ear. Drop it in the oil and fry for a couple minutes on either side. Use tongs to set the ear on paper towel to cool. Ending Sentence Finally, cover it with frosting or sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar and enjoy!

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Persuasive Paragraph

A persuasive paragraph gives an opinion and argues for that opinion using reasons. The sample below argues for wearing a helmet to guard against serious injury.

Helmets for Everyone!

Topic Sentence Whether you’re on a bike, scooter, skateboard, or skates, you should wear a helmet. Details give reasons. A helmet protects you from serious brain injury. Make sure to wear one that fits you well. It should be level with the ground, covering your forehead. Also, make sure to fasten the strap under your chin so the helmet stays in place. Ending Sentence Wear your helmet and encourage friends and family to wear theirs, too. It’s cool to be safe, so it’s helmets for everyone!

Sign Kids

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Writing a Paragraph


Select a Topic 🟪 Choose a topic that truly interests you.

Collect Details 🟪 Gather facts and examples.

  • For a narrative paragraph, answer Who was involved? What happened? Where and when did it happen?
  • For a descriptive paragraph, collect sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures.
  • For an explanatory paragraph, gather important facts and examples.
  • For a persuasive paragraph, use reasons to argue for your opinion.

Writing a Draft

Put Your Information in Order 🟪 

  • Start with your topic sentence.

  • Use the middle sentences (the body) to support the topic sentence.

  • Sum everything up in the ending sentence.

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Check Your First Draft 🟪 Look closely at each part—the topic sentence, the body, and the ending sentence.

  • Are your sentences clear and in the best order?
  • Do you need to add more details about your topic? (Check the samples on pages 55–58 for help.)

Editing & Proofreading

Correct Your Writing 🟪 Use these questions as a guide when you check your revised writing for errors:

  • Are your words interesting and colorful (crumpled instead of old)?
  • Have you used the right words, and are your words spelled correctly?
  • Does each of your sentences begin with a capital letter and end with the correct punctuation mark?
  • Did you indent your paragraph?

Use revising and editing questions to guide your work.

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Vocabulary List:
  • paragraph: set of sentences about a single topic

Vocabulary List:
  • topic sentence: sentence that states the main idea of the paragraph

  • body: sentences that provide details to support the topic sentence

  • ending sentence: final sentence that completes the ideas in the paragraph

Vocabulary List:
  • narrative paragraph: paragraph that tells a story

Vocabulary List:
  • descriptive paragraph: paragraph that describes a person, place, or thing

Vocabulary List:
  • explanatory paragraph: paragraph that provides information about something or tells how to do something

Vocabulary List:
  • persuasive paragraph: paragraph that expresses an opinion and argues to convince readers

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