How to teach your homeschooled child to write a paragraph, using the “hamburger” method. This is a free lesson plan for your homeschool family. Also included in this post is a free printable graphic organizer for hamburger paragraphs.
One of the most refreshing things about spending time with my children is the way they jump, actively, from topic to topic. They seem to find endless links between the subjects, whereas they often leave me breathless trying to work out where the thoughts came from and where they are going. When you realize that children don’t think in straight lines, you start to understand why they sometimes have a problem organizing their thoughts and writing them down in paragraphs.
Teaching children to write in paragraphs can often be a challenge, but there is a foolproof method for both younger and older children. Once children understand that the process is a bit like a recipe – adding each ingredient bit by bit until you get the finished product, they will then be able to develop any idea into a paragraph. The best way to get started is to ask them what a paragraph looks like in a book they have read and then look at them together.
Once you have done that, then teach your children the thumb method for indentation. Remind them that when they write a paragraph they have to place their thumb on the paper to indent it.
Then introduce this technique, which involves breaking the writing of a paragraph into 3 steps: the point you are trying to address, the explanation and the concluding sentence or comment. For younger children you can explain the technique like making a burger – the idea is the bottom bun, the meat and fixings go in the middle and the top of the bun finishes it off!
Let’s have a look at the elements in paragraph writing (like making a hamburger) more detail:
- The point you are trying to address (the bottom bun) is what you want to write about. It might be why rainbows are multicolored? Why dogs bark? Or the reasons behind WWII.
- Then comes the explanation (the meat and fixings)– the explanation should provide 1-3 sentences of explanation and expansion.
- You finish up with your concluding sentence or comment (the top bun). This should draw the whole paragraph together.
Now let’s have a look at some examples for younger and older children:
My Favorite Food (Younger Children)
(P) My favorite food is peanut butter.
(E) I like eating peanut butter because it is sticky and I like to mix it with jelly.
(C) You can mix peanut butter and jelly to make a sandwich and it will taste great.
Why did I miss my ride to co-op today?
(P) Today I missed my ride to co-op, I was ready on time, but my ride didn’t come to get me.
(E) When I finally got to co-op, I realized that the clocks went forward on Sunday, but I had forgotten to change the time on my watch and was ready an hour before my ride came to pick me up.
(C) I missed my ride because I forgot to set my watch to the right time. I am going to make a note in my diary to not make that mistake again.
One of the causes of World War II
(P) One of the causes of World War II was the anger that Germany felt over the treaty of Versailles.
(E) The treaty of Versailles included Germany losing parts of its territory. The loss of cities on the French/German border and the creation of the Danzig corridor caused intense anger in the German people and their leaders. This built distrust and irritation with the allied countries.
(C) Therefore, the resentment over the treaty of Versailles caused a situation where Fascism could develop in Germany and became a cause of World War II
You can make it easy for your children to learn this technique by creating a poster together, label all the bits of the paragraph and then place it on the wall – it will always be there to remind your children what to do.
Want a quick printable to use in your homeschool for hamburger paragraphs? This graphic organizer will help!
Using the hamburger technique you can easily teach your child to write in concise and meaningful paragraphs about any subject. Try it today!