Kids: Is it time to write that essay paper?

This is the time most teachers start requesting you to write a paper. So what is the first thing you think of when your teacher announces that you have a paper due? And, no, "YUCK!" doesn't count, and neither does, "I think I am going to be sick."

Writing a paper, any paper, is not as difficult as you might think. In most circumstances, and for those of you in elementary or middle school, you can complete your assignment in five paragraphs. But before we discuss what goes into those five paragraphs, there three things you must decide. First, what is your paper about? What topic were you given or did you choose? An event in history? Your latest hobby? How you maneuvered your board to carve the perfect turn in the snow? Or, who your favorite superhero is and why? 

Now that you've chosen your topic, your second step is to develop a simple outline. Why? An outline will help you organize your thoughts. Let's take the snowboarding event as an example. If my topic is "How to Make a Perfect Carve", then my outline might contain things like: What does the term "carve" mean? What did I do to get myself ready? What equipment did I use? Where did I go? What did it feel like? What happened the first time I tried make a turn in the snow with my snowboard? Why was cutting a thin groove in the snow so important to me? How did I feel when I made it? 

Your outline will become your blueprint for your paper, but it will also help you decide what type of research you need to do. Okay, not everyone enjoys research. But, did you know that a good paper always starts with research?  Even if you are writing a personal experience, you still need to jot down a time line and fill it in. Sometimes, you might not be clear on exactly what happened, so you ask your parents, your sibling, or a friend to refresh your memory. 

Questioning the primary source, or the person who witnessed the amazing carve you performed on the slopes, is considered research.  Books on the subject, magazine articles, and web pages are also considered sources for research. Your trip to the library, the internet, or the snowboarding instructor takes time, so you need to plan when and where your research will take place. Once this third step is completed, you are ready to write your paper. Here are what your 5 paragraphs should look like:

  • The first paragraph is sometimes called the Introductory paragraph. It contains your strongest statement or exciting idea about the topic and 3 things you want to discuss in your paper.

  • The second paragraph describes the first point you want to make about your topic. Remember that each of the three paragraphs should use a transition. Transitions are words that help the reader move from one point to another. The words, next, first, second, third, and then are all transition words.

  • The third paragraph is for your second point. Make it exciting by providing details. For example. on the snowboarding piece, I would include how the snow felt or sounded.  Was it hard and cold? Was it wet and mushy? Or was it dry like powdered sugar? Did it make a sloshing sound against my boot, or was it like a cracking sound?

  • The fourth paragraph described your third and final point.

  • The last paragraph is your wrap up paragraph. It concludes your paper, and it allows you to mention your topic and your three points one more time. 

So, start writing. You may be surprised how easy it really is.

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