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How to Write A Five Paragraph Essay

Bruce(6) was home from school today with a nasty cough, but he wasn’t too sick to boss me around. 🙂 He came into the kitchen while I was making lunch and told me that we were going to do a five paragraph writing contest. He told me that a paragraph has five sentences with periods in it, and that I better get busy. The next twenty minutes were spent with us both writing and trying to protect our papers from Jenna(27m) and her crayons. Here is a sample of what Bruce produced. He did indeed write five paragraphs worth of material, although each paragraph was on a different topic:

Since I was being forced into an impromptu writing test, I decided that I’d whip something up that would be didactic. So after Bruce read me his composition I showed him my outline of how I crafted a five paragraph essay. Mostly this lesson went straight over his head, but at least the idea has been planted that there is an organizational strategy to writing a five paragraph essay.

Please note that this is not my best work, and that I struggled a bit with the D’nealian script. I’m also a naturally horrible speller, so have fun catching my mistakes!

My color-coded outline:

My Essay: I’ve color-coded some of the sentences in case you want to use this as an example when teaching your own children how to write essays.

The basic formula for writing a perfectly serviceable (but boring) five paragraph essay is as follows:

1) Introduction Paragraph.

Thesis statement


Reason #2

Reason #3

Restate thesis in new way


2) Second Paragraph

Reason #1 statement

Supporting detail 1.1

Supporting detail 1.2

Supporting detail 1.3


3) Third Paragraph

Reason #2 statement

Supporting detail 2.1

Supporting detail 2.2

Supporting detail 2.3


4) Fourth Paragraph

Reason #3 statement

Supporting detail 3.1

Supporting detail 3.2

Supporting detail 3.3


5) Conclusion Paragraph

Restate thesis statement in new way

Restate reason #1

Restate reason #2

Restate reason #3

Final conclusion sentence

Right now I am pretty happy that Bruce likes to write at all. As a first grader, he is focusing on putting down thoughts to paper and perfecting his handwriting and spelling. But some day when he is ready, maybe the summer before fourth grade, I’m going to teach him how to bang out a five paragraph essay in his sleep. It is a skill that will serve him well on standardized tests in the future.