Academy Curricular Exchange
Columbia Education Center


AUTHOR:  Martha Adams; Jefferson Elementary, Everette, WA
                Adapted from Mitzi Merrill; Staff Development
                Snohomish, WA

GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT:  4-6; Language arts, writing

OVERVIEW:  When 4th - 6th graders are asked to write a paragraph,
the result is often a few short, choppy sentences beginning with
The, An, A, or I.  This activity guides students through the
writing process for a successful five-sentence paragraph with
varied sentence beginnings. Repeating this process frequently
with many, varied topics teaches students to use variety to
create interesting paragraphs.

OBJECTIVE(s):  As a result of this activity, the students will
each write a five-sentence paragraph with varied sentence
beginnings, correct spelling and punctuation, and appropriate

RESOURCES/MATERIALS:  Chalkboard or overhead for teacher sample,
paper and pencil for students

ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES:  Each step in this activity should be
modeled by the teacher and result in a sample paragraph for the
1.  Each student lists three material things they wish for, three
    happenings that would make them happy, and three places they 
    would like to visit.
  THINGS       HAPPENINGS                     PLACES
  Ferrari       Peace on Earth                Australia
  Diamonds   Energy consciousness             Jamaica
  Lottery      More recycling                 Italy

2.  Each student circles one favorite item from each list.  The  
    following five sentence patterns are used as each student    
    writes his/her sentences.  Sentences are all numbered and    
    begun at the left margin in this step.  A later step puts    
    them in paragraph form.  For each pattern, the teacher models 
    first, students give oral examples, then students write their 
    own sentences. 
3.  a.  This is the opening or topic sentence.
    Three things that would make me happy are a Ferrari, and    
    energy conscious society, and a trip to Australia.
    If I had      three wishes they would include.......
    _______, _________, and ________ are three things that would
    make me happy.
    Three sure ways to make me happy would be....
    b.  The second sentence begins with and -ing word and used   
    the thing wished for.
    Racing down the freeway in my Ferrari, I would be the envy of
    everyone I met.
    Owning a red Ferrari would probably net me many speeding
    Driving my zippy Ferrari would be sheer pleasure.
    c.  The third sentence begins with "To" plus and action word
    and uses the happening wished for.
    To live in an energy conscious society would make our lives  
    To know that everyone was energy conscious would make me feel
    To be aware of energy conservation should be of importance to
d.  The fourth sentence begins with a prepositional phrase
    and uses the place desired to visit.
    During a visit to Australia, I would certainly see kangaroos. 
    For visiting Australia, I would need a new camera.
    From a visit to Australia, I would learn about many different
    animals and plants.
e.  The last sentence is a concluding sentence beginning with a
    word such as finally, certainly, surely, etc.
    Certainly my wishes are attainable.
    Surely I deserve all I wish for.  
    Hopefully my wishes will come true before I'm 50.
4.  Collect student papers and proof for spelling errors.
5.  Return papers and have students rewrite in paragraph form. 
    Discuss margins and any other criteria you will be using for
    scoring (ink, cursive, illustrated, etc.).

TYING IT ALL TOGETHER:  By using this step-by-step method
frequently, students begin to use variety in sentence structure
in their paragraph writing.  When assigning a paragraph, one of
the criteria could be that no two sentences start with the same


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