Writing a Paragraph




Hand outline

20-25 minutes

PROVIDE FOR INCLUSION – A You Question, Energizer, or Linking Strategy

Use the energizer “That’s Me” and ask students to stand, raise hands, call out, etc. if they can say “yes” to the following statements:

  • I like to learn about animals.
  • I know a lot about some animals.
  • I like to eat certain foods.
  • I don’t like to eat certain foods.
  • I can give more than one reason why I like (or don’t like) certain foods.
  • I like to play.
  • I like to play specific types of games.


Content Standard: Create a single paragraph: Develop a topic sentence. Include simple supporting facts and details.

Collaborative: Think constructively, Assess improvement

Personal: Share personal characteristics and appreciate others



Have students trace their hand, or teacher prepares an outline of a hand. Have students use their own hands to show and move fingers as follows (teacher should model as well as write on a hand outline for all to see):

  1. Touch your thumb and little finger together – this is the beginning and end of the paragraph – a topic sentence (thumb up) and a conclusion (little finger up). Put them together (touching again) because these sentences can be almost the same; they can restate one another.
  2. Index finger up – This is your first reason, or supporting sentence. Have students remember “That’s Me” – “Who knows a lot about a type of animal?…This (index finger up) would be one of the things you know about that animal.”
  3. (Keep index finger up [very important!!]) Show index and middle finger (“two”) – this is the second reason or supporting sentence.
  4. Add the ring finger (“three”) – This is the third reason or supporting sentence.
  5. Now just the little finger up – This is the concluding sentence; it can restate the topic sentence.

EXAMPLE: (Teacher can write these sentences on the hand outline as they are constructed…with students’ help!)

  • Thumb – I love to eat vegetables.
  • Index finger – Vegetables are healthy foods.
  • Middle finger – They are low in sugar.
  • Ring finger – Spinach is my favorite.
  • Little finger – I eat a lot of vegetables.

Now have students construct their own sentences, on their own hand outlines. Follow the strategy plan in the book for sharing.


Content: How did using your fingers help you to remember the parts of a paragraph? Which sentence was most difficult to write? Why?

Collaborative: How did sharing with others help you to improve your writing? What changes did you make after sharing?

Personal: How did it feel to share something about yourself? How did it feel to share your writing?


Invite statements (model if necessary). Or, ask students to write the name of someone who helped, followed directions, had good sentences, etc on the bottom of the hand outline page.


Now, using the hand outline, have students write the paragraph on a separate piece of paper. Staple the hand outline to the written paragraph and collect and evaluate. Be clear on WHAT is being evaluated…order of sentences? Conventions? Grammar? Paragraph structure? You get the picture.


  • Group Development Process
  • Cognitive Theory
  • Multiple Intelligences
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Constructivism
  • Reflective Practice
  • Authentic Assessment
  • Writing a Paragraph Outline


For paragraphs with supporting details, use the “fingernail” for the reasons or supporting sentence and the body of the finger for the detail>

EXAMPLE: Spinach is my favorite. It can be eaten raw or cooked.

Another modification would be to use a shape or outline other than a hand – any type of graphic organizer or foldable paper design to help students organize and complete the essential parts of a paragraph.