Do you have trouble coming up with ideas to put in your paragraphs?

Would you like help organizing each paragraph so it is not a jumbled mess?

Check out this chart below, along with one that is filled in, to make your life a little easier.

{Here’s the HIGH SCHOOL version of this tutorial. >>}

A paragraph is all about one idea. In it, you teach something about that idea, explain it, or prove why it is the right one.

Here is a blank chart for you to fill in. There’s a place for your one idea and places to explain or prove your idea.  You can download a PDF of the chart here.

Do you have trouble coming up with ideas to put in your paragraphs? Would you like help organizing each paragraph so it is not a mess? Use this chart.

paragraph chart

This image shows how a student filled in the chart to create a paragraph. You can download a PDF of the completed chart here.
chart image for paragraph
This is the paragraph, all written out:

     Cats are polite. They walk quietly through the house, minding their own business. They purr softly instead of barking their heads off. In fact, my cat Dixie never jumps at me with muddy paws. Instead, she rubs against my legs until I pick her up.

Notice how the main idea, “Cats are polite,” becomes the topic sentence.

Paragraphs in the body of your essay (not the introduction or the conclusion paragraphs) need a topic sentence and two or three sentences to explain or prove your topic sentence. These sentences answer “Why?” or “Prove it!”

You can use examples, facts, logical statements, true stories, and so on. In the cat example, this student uses statements (walk quietly and purr softly) and one example from her own experience with Dixie.

If you are writing an essay, you’ll want to fill out one chart for each paragraph in the body of your essay. Most essays have at least three paragraphs in the body.

After you fill out one chart for each of your paragraphs, move the charts around to see which order you want to put your paragraphs in. When you have decided on the order, write an introduction, then your three paragraphs from your charts, and then a conclusion.

Now it’s your turn: Choose one of the following options.

  1. Do you disagree with the paragraph about cats? Then fill in the chart and write a paragraph about dogs!
  2. Choose an animal you love or can’t stand. Next, think of reasons why this animal would make a great pet (or a terrible one). Then fill out the chart. Finally, use the information you put on the chart to write your own paragraph.


To see how to use the chart on a high school level, click here.

Some of the cat paragraph is taken from an example in Jump In.

Copyright © 2015 by Sharon Watson
Image credit: Sharon Watson


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Drop the Drama: Help Stuggling Writers Jump These 5 Hurdles Are your writers struggling? Do you wish you could figure out why your children won’t write? Would you love to have a peaceful writing class experience?

Help your struggling writers—and you!—by identifying five hurdles to writing. Then learn practical actions you can take against those hurdles.

This article by me in The Old Schoolhouse magazine is also loaded with links to other helpful posts that will give you and your writers some welcome relief.

Click here to drain some of the tension from your writing class



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the-power-in-your-hands writing-fiction-in-high-school Check out the innovative The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School for your complete high school writing curriculum needs. If you have a storyteller at home, try Writing Fiction [in High School] with hundreds of examples from popular fiction and classical literature.

Jump InGet your middle school student ready for high school with this popular writing curriculum from Writing with Sharon Watson, published by Apologia! Featured in Cathy Duffy’s 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum, Jump In will prepare and even amuse your students as they learn the fundamentals of effective essay writing and storytelling.