Crafting Better Paragraphs with the Hamburger Analogy

With the hamburger paragraph analogies, kids can write better informational text. First, gather three or four closely related details. This is the meat of the sandwich. Second, slip the “meat” between the buns (topic sentence and conclusion). Third, add some cheese (elaboration). Fourth, pull your paragraph together with transitions. Fifth, squirt on saucy words. Finally, spice it up by combining related sentences and varying sentence beginnings. Bon appetit!

Hamburger Analogy Cover

Six Steps to Crafting Hamburger Paragraphs

Building a paragraph is like building a burger. Detail sentences support the topic sentence. The conclusion seals the deal and matches the topic sentence. Elaboration gives flavor and substance. Transitions move the reader along. Word choice spices it up.

If you want to be a better writing teacher, try writing yourself. As you write, consider the task. What is necessary for each step in the writing process? What parts are difficult? How long should each step take? When would some students need remediation?

Writing is a struggle. Writing a hamburger paragraph yourself provides a great model for your students. It also lets you walk in their shoes. Then you’re ready to teach it!

A paragraph needs a main idea, or a strong central message. All details need to support that main idea. They are the “meat” of the paragraph. In this example, all hamburger paragraph details are related to the origin of burgers in the United States. To create a stronger central message, all sentences focus on one possible origin: Charles Nagreen of Wisconsin.

To write an informative paragraph, begin with three or four closely related facts, steps or details. Using the hamburger analogy helps kids in third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade write stronger paragraphs.
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Step 2: Generate a topic sentence and a conclusion.

The topic sentence states the main idea. It must clearly explain the central message. Notice how this topic sentence states that some people think Charles Nagreen created the first hamburger. The origin of the hamburger is debatable, but this paragraph sticks to one central message.

Finish the hamburger paragraph with a conclusion. It should support the main idea without being too similar to the topic sentence. The two “buns” (topic sentence and the conclusion) should match. After all, would you build a sandwich with a burger bun on top and a hot dog bun on the bottom? No, of course not.

Notice how this conclusion has been created with consideration for the detail sentences and elaboration.

When writing paragraphs, ask third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade students to use the hamburger analogy. After they establish the "meat" of the paragraph, slip it between two buns: the topic sentence and the conclusion.

Step 3: Elaborate for better paragraphs.

Add extra details for clarification or elaboration. The “cheese” provides texture. It can clarify or provide finer points. The audience needs to know where Charlie invented the hamburger, as well as the reason for its name. Encourage kids to ask, “What else should the audience know?” and “What is necessary for the audience to fully understand?” Then they can add a little cheese to their hamburger paragraph.

Want to improve your students' paragraphs? Ask them to add some cheese. Third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade students can elaborate to give a paragraph more information.

Step 4: Add transitions.

Transition terms move the reader seamlessly from one idea to the next. These “condiments” provide relationships, conditions, etc. They pull the hamburger paragraph together.

When using the hamburger analogy for writing paragraphs, ask students in third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade to use transitions to pull their paragraphs together. It's sort of like slapping on some condiments.

Step 5: Improve word choice – and get better paragraphs!

Kids should replace boring words and use vocabulary that’s specific to the topic. Gather some great words then squirt them on!

Ask your third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade kids to squirt on some saucy words. Improve paragraph writing with the hamburger analogy.


Step 6: Spice it up!

Get those sentences in order. To spice it up, make sure every sentence begins differently. As you work, continue to strengthen combining related sentences. This makes your hamburger paragraph really tight.

Use the hamburger analogy to improve paragraph writing in third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. To spice up writing, combine related sentences and vary sentence beginnings.

Building a better paragraph is messy work. It requires multiple steps and thoughtful organization. Children (and adults!) need to practice again and again to get it right.

Ta-Da! The Hamburger Paragraph Masterpiece Is Complete!

The poster set featured above, related paragraph writing craftivity, and video are now available in my Teachers pay Teachers store.

Use burger parts to craft a better paragraph. Kids in third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade will improve the writing process.

Sandwich clip art was created by Educlips.

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