My students love using this road map writing center to help them write a proper paragraph. The stop light analogy helps them to visually understand the proper structure of a paragraph.
I begin the school year teaching the children the basic structure using a topic sentence, details, and a closing sentence with the stop light analogy. The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown is the perfect writing anchor text to use to teach paragraph structure. You can read more about it HERE. Once they get the hang of it, I teach them to use transition words and phrases. I will talk more about this later.
I have found that my first graders truly catch on to paragraph structure when using this model. Take a closer look at the photograph below and notice the color-coding we use to help us include a topic sentence, details and a closing sentence:
We understand that the topic sentence is how we start (Ready, Set, Go!). That is why we underline it in green!
When we write our detail sentences we know need to slow down and give our readers enough information to understand our main idea. The time order words help us “move the story along the road”. I created those cute cars (in the photo above) and wrote the time order words right on them nice and big so they can be seen from across the room! The children are encouraged to use all the time order words to describe their main idea. You can easily differentiate the number of detail sentences required for some of your struggling writers and eventually they will use all of them!
And finally, our closing sentence is the stopping point of our paragraph where we remind our reader of our main idea. This sentence is often a feeling sentence and is underlined in red.
Take a closer look at one of my first grader’s writing pieces from the beginning of the year in the photograph below. Notice how many details they included! And they had fun color coding their time order words to match the cars! They love to bring those desk helpers right to their seat to help them stay on the “write track” if they are unable to see the bulletin board from where they are sitting.
I hope you have found these tips and tricks helpful and that you can start using them right away in your classroom. I would definitely begin with The Important Book and color-coding the parts of the paragraph! I have been using this method for over 15 years and it never fails!
If you would like to download this writing bulletin board set for your own classroom, please visit my TpT store at:
On the Road to Proper Paragraph Writing
or pin it for later: