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.

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

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


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

How to write a really great paragraph >

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 

By: Chris Van Allsburg
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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

I Face the Wind

By: Vicki Cobb
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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


By: Nic Bishop
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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

By: Doreen Cronin
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

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

By: Deborah Howe, James Howe
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Family

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

By: Alison Lester
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

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: His Original Adventure

By: Jeff Brown
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Life as a paper-thin boy is not all bad as Stanley finds out. He was flattened by a bulletin board bit adjusts quite well with the help of his parents to his new dimensions — all of which makes for very funny reading (and travels in later books about Stanley and his family).


I use hamburger organizer as my strategy in my thesis, for my refrences is there have a book explain about hamburger organizer?!

I teach seventh and eighth grade Language Arts. My students do not know how to write paragraphs. It saddens me. I used the hamburger paragraph when I taught elementary school years ago, so I am revisiting it and praying it will help my students.

Thanks alot, I found the best way to explain my students how to write a paragraph.

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

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.

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 :) !!!!!!****

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

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

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!

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

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.

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"The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read." — Abraham Lincoln