In fifth grade, students are asked to write a variety of paragraphs, but often aren’t sure how to structure the sentences within them. They know what they want to say, but may need help putting it in order. “Transition words” are tools that will help your fifth grader align his sentences and improve the overall flow of his paragraphs. If your child’s paragraphs need to transition from out-of-order to organized and smooth, try this simple, real-life activity.
What You Do:
- Begin by asking your child about his favorite local destination spot. For example, maybe he has a favorite restaurant, arcade, gym or mall. Next, tell him you will take him to that favorite spot if he will write the driving directions for you. Tell him he will get to practice an important writing skill and get a reward when he’s finished.
- Ask your child to say the directions aloud first and write them in a short list. For example, go left on Washington Street, drive for two miles, turn right on Jefferson Avenue. At the third light, turn left into the mall.
- Show your child common transition words used to structure paragraphs and make them flow smoothly. Some examples of transitions are “first,” “next,” “then,” “also,” “in addition,” and “finally.” Ask your child to write the directions in paragraph form, but use a transition word before each sentence. Guide your fifth grader through the process and have him use a red pen or marker to write the transitions. When he’s finished, ask him to read it out loud to check for errors and to make sure it sounds smooth.
- Get your keys and head out to your fifth grader’s favorite destination. You’ll get to spend time with your child knowing the real reward will be better paragraphs!
Extension: Continually ask your child to give you verbal directions using transition words. The more they practice using transitions, the more automatic sentence order will become.
Brigid Del Carmen has a Master's Degree in Special Education with endorsements in Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders/Emotional Impairments. Over the past eight years, she has taught Language Arts, Reading and Math in her middle school special education classroom.