How to Write a Great Topic Sentence

Why Kids Hate Topic Sentences

Are your students baffled when trying to write a strong topic sentence?  Are you tired of seeing something like, “Cheetahs are very interesting animals” as the first sentence of every paragraph your child writes?

Topic sentences are important!  They are also difficult for most kids to master when they are learning to write a paragraph.

Topic Sentences Made Simple

In my homeschool writing programs, I tell students that the topic sentence needs to have two parts:

The Topic:  What is the paragraph about?  This might be cheetahs, or George Washington, or Disneyland.

The Controlling Idea:  This is what limits the topic to one main idea.  You can’t cover everything there is to know about cheetahs in one paragraph.  Maybe your paragraph is going to be about how fast cheetahs can run.  Or maybe your paragraph is going to be about the rides at Disneyland.  The controlling idea controls what can go into your paragraph, and it tells the reader what to expect from the paragraph.

To combine a topic (cheetahs) and a controlling idea (their speed) into a topic sentence, you make a statement (not a question) that includes both those parts.  For example:

Cheetahs are the fastest land animals on Earth.

To combine the topic of Disneyland with the controlling idea about the rides, you might say something like this:

Disneyland has many thrilling rides for both children and adults.

Avoid These Common Writing Mistakes

One mistake a lot of students make is telling the reader what they are going to tell them.  They say something like this:  “I am going to tell you about the thrilling rides at Disneyland.”  Or “Here are some of the exciting rides at Disneyland.”  You want to avoid topic sentences like this.  Keep it simple.  Make a statement.  And don’t use personal pronouns like “I.”

You also want to avoid using a question as a topic sentence.  Questions work as “hooks” for longer essays, but for a topic sentence, it’s better to stick to the simple statement that includes the topic and the controlling idea.

FREE Online Writing Lesson

Get a FREE Online Writing Lesson about How to Write a Great Topic Sentence

If you’d like to receive a link to my free online writing lesson about how to write a great topic sentence, please go to my home page and provide your email address.  I will send you a ten-minute lesson that includes practice exercises and examples of how to write a topic sentence teachers will love.  Have your student watch it, and then practice the simple techniques any time your child writes a paragraph.

Online Writing Classes That Make Writing Simple and Fun

If you’d like more, my online writing classes for kids include easy, step-by-step instructions for writing the topic sentence, the detail sentences, and the concluding sentence that make a great paragraph.  My goal is to make writing simple and fun!

If you have questions or would like to get started, feel free to contact me at holly.dodson@verizon.net, or call me at 951-302-0540.

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