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Paragraph Hamburger

The "paragraph hamburger" is a writing organizer that visually outlines the key components of a paragraph. Topic sentence, detail sentences, and a closing sentence are the main elements of a good paragraph, and each one forms a different "piece" of the hamburger.

Why use a paragraph hamburger organizer?

  • It helps students organize their ideas into a cohesive paragraph.
  • It helps show the organization or structure of concepts/idea.
  • It demonstrates in a concrete way how information is related.

How to use paragraph hamburger

  1. Discuss the three main components of a paragraph, or story.
    1. The introduction (top bun)
    2. The internal or supporting information (the filling)
    3. The conclusion (bottom bun)
  2. Ask students to write a topic sentence that clearly indicates what the whole paragraph is going to be about.
  3. Have students compose several supporting sentences that give more information about the topic.
  4. Instruct students on ways to write a concluding sentence that restates the topic sentence.

Download blank templates

When to use: Before reading During reading After reading
How to use: Individually With small groups Whole class setting

Examples:

This PowerPoint presentation shows each of the pieces of the hamburger. The example provided is about why a teacher loves teaching!

Launch PPT >

This site walks readers through each step of using the paragraph hamburger writing strategy. Examples and instructions are given for writing topic sentences, supporting ideas, and conclusions of paragraphs.

See example >

Differentiated instruction

For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, students with learning disabilities, and younger learners

  • Show them numerous examples of well-written paragraphs and have them identify the parts. Or let them study it on their own by providing a number of paragraphs with the parts labeled.
  • Provide students with some of the parts already filled in. For example, you provide all the "filling" sentences, and ask students to write a good introductory or wrap up sentence.
  • Provide students with one example filled in entirely. Ask them to cut out each portion and then rearrange the pieces.
  • Ask students to find a paragraph within their textbook. See if they can identify the different pieces of that paragraph. If necessary, have them revise the textbook paragraph!
  • Have them speak the paragraph before writing the paragraph. Use scaffolding. For example, "What is one thing you would like to tell me about Fido (name of child's dog)." "How is Fido a lot fun to play with?" (elicit details). "So what did you tell me about Fido?" (conclusion).

See the research that supports this strategy

Children's books to use with this strategy

Two Bad Ants 

Two Bad Ants 

Separated from the colony, readers join two adventurous ants and see the world from a very different perspective.

I Face the Wind

I Face the Wind

Children are encouraged to observe as experiment as they learn about wind and air as well as practice science writing by describing their findings.

Frogs

Frogs

Stunning close-ups of colorful frogs in their natural habitats taken by an acclaimed photographer and biologist combine with clearly presented information on large, bright pages, sure to intrigue as well as inform readers of all ages.

Diary of a Worm

Diary of a Worm

What icky creature looks the same from both ends? The worm, of course! For the first time ever, get the insider’s view of life from this creepy crawler’s perspective. He lives underground with his family, eats his homework and does his best to annoy his sister — documenting it all in a diary. Simple illustrations are the ideal complement to the understated humor (though nonetheless laugh-out-loud tone) of the text.

The Bunnicula Collection: Books 1 to 3

The Bunnicula Collection: Books 1 to 3

Harold the family dog narrates three stories of life with supernatural suspicions which begins with Bunnicula, the bunny with fangs. In the Howliday Inn while boarding at the Chateau Bow-Wow, Harold and Chester (the Monroe cat) encounter a werewolf, perhaps. Chester and Harold must stop zombie vegetables when the Celery Stalks at Midnight. Over-the-top humor is very appealing to a broad range of listeners (including adults!).

Are We There Yet? A Journey Around Australia

Are We There Yet? A Journey Around Australia

The year Grace turned eight, her Mum and Dad took her and her siblings on a trip around Australia. The kids "missed school for the whole winter term" and Grace documented much of what she learned, where she went, and the adventures they had as they experienced the diversity of the continent. Grace’s informal voice is informative yet engaging, completed by line drawings and simple maps.

Flat Stanley

Flat Stanley

When Stanley Lambchop wakes up one morning, his brother, Arthur, is yelling. A bulletin board fell on Stanley during the night, and now he is only half an inch thick! Amazing things begin happening to him. Stanley gets rolled up, mailed, and flown like a kite. He even gets to help catch two dangerous art thieves. He may be flat, but he's a hero!

Comments

Thanks for this great graphic organizer idea! I usually use the "umbrella" plan, but it doesn't include a concluding statement. Also I like the students to use multiple kinds of graphic organizers so that the concept transfers to other situations.

I always use the hamburger organizer when teaching paragraphs to second graders, so I love the powerpoint. Thanks for sharing it!

I do something similar to this, but with a ham sandwich. It makes it easy to explain to the kids that their sandwiches can have turkey or salami, but they are still sandwiches- just different!

Looking for a new strategy to teach writing. I think I've found it. Thanks.

How would you use the picture books in with the hamburger writing? To summarize the book?

Heyy This is probably the easiest one I've ever heard usually our class is Topic Sentence Explanation Illustration & conclusion I will remember this for futre reference thanks readingrocets.org :) !!!!!!****

As a parent, I am fine w/the hamburger idea, even though it teaches kids to write in a very boring and constrained way. Still, I think it's fine for elementary school. My main problem is that our school teaches paragraph writing too early, in my opinion. Our second-graders really struggle with it, but some of them still don't form their letters correctly. I wish they would push off paragraph writing until late third- or even fourth-grade and focus on grammar, spelling, and punctuation in the younger grades.

This relationship is great for forming the main idea of a section of text.

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