Framed Paragraphs

Framed paragraphs are pre-writing tools that help students write well-developed paragraphs. They are skeleton formats containing information about the main ideas and transition words that guide the organization and the development of supportive details. Framed paragraphs offer a structure for students to use as they begin to write paragraphs and essays.

Watch sentence frames in action

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

Why use framed paragraphs?

  • It provides a framework for writing strong paragraphs
  • The frame guides students by providing the transitional phrases for sentences
  • It can incorporate various sentence types: long and short, simple and complex.


How to use framed paragraphs

Framed Sentences Example
  1. Discuss how to write a framed paragraph by using:
    • A topic sentence — a general statement or opinion
    • Three to five examples that develop the topic or opinion
    • Transitions when needed
    • A summary sentence at the end
  2. Provide students with a blank frame.
  3. Ask students fill in the missing portions of the frame to write a complete paragraph.
  4. Encourage students to incorporate a variety of sentences: long and short, simple and complex.

Download blank template

There are many ways to create a frame for a paragraph. This simple template helps children summarize what they learned from their reading.


Language Arts

This example of a framed paragraph centers on Holidays and provides additional space for students to re-write the completed paragraph.

See example > (99K PDF)*


This site includes an example of using a framed paragraph for writing a description about decimals.

See example > (110K PDF)*

Social Studies

This example shows how teachers can use a writing frame to develop a "compare" and "contrast" essay.

See example > (28K PDF)*

English Language Learners

Using sentence frames to increase English language fluency at each level's language development.

See example >

Differentiated instruction

For Second Language Learners, students of varying reading skill, and for younger learners

  • Vary the amount of information you provide in the frame. Some students may require lots of transition words for sentences, others will need very few.
  • Model the frame paragraph strategy with a text that is familiar to students before asking them to complete it on their own.
  • Some students may enjoy making their own frame for something they've read. Students could pair up, write their own frames, and then trade texts and frames and complete the new frame.

See the research that supports this strategy

Ellis, E. S. (1998). Framing Main Ideas and Essential Details to Promote Comprehension.

Sejnost, R., & Thiese, S. (2007). Reading and Writing Across Content Areas 2nd Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Children's books to use with this strategy

Racing Around

Racing Around

Part of the MathStart series, this story centers around a boy's desire to ride in a 15 kilometer bicycle race. Lucid text and clear illustrations are used to explain perimeters and more. The series varies in difficulty.

Gold Fever

Gold Fever

A lucid text (with lots of visuals) reveals exciting and sourced stories of the California Gold Rush. Other books by Schanzer may work as well.

Benny's Pennies

Benny's Pennies

A boy has five pennies and spends them one at a time as he meets people during a walk. Told in rhyme, this cumulative story is appealing and well supported by illustration.

Me on the Map

Me on the Map

The United States is a big place which holds many children and their families. Maps and what they show are introduced by a girl who begins with a drawing of her room in her home. The house is then placed on a street, in a town, etc. until we see the U.S. as part of the world. This accessible book may help children understand their place on the map — and in the census.

Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman

Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman

This beautifully written book, illustrated by four-time Caldecott Honor recipient Jerry Pinkney, makes the story of Harriet Tubman's childhood accessible to very young readers. As a young slave nicknamed Minty, Harriet Tubman was a feisty and stubborn girl with a dream of escape, and a rebellious spirit that often got her into trouble. Pinkney's expressive illustrations bring every emotion to brilliant life – from troubled sorrow to spirited hope for freedom.

Miss Rumphius

Miss Rumphius

Deciding in childhood that she would seek adventure in faraway places, Miss Rumphius fulfills her dream and then has one more thing to do – something to make the world more beautiful.


I used this technique to help students assess their performance in tests:The test was __________. First, I _____________. Then, _____________. I found ___________ difficult. On the contrary, I found _____________ easy to solve. I think I __________.

My fifth graders write their first "official" research paper as part of the Science Fair process at our school. I have created frames for the five paragraph essay to help the children organize all the facts and data they find while researching. Children who do not need the frame are encouraged to write the paper independently, but it is available for anyone who needs it. I think the research paper frame is an invaluable tool for bridging the way to independent research writing in the upper grades. Stacy @

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"There is no frigate like a book, to take us lands away" — Emily Dickinson