How To Write An Introduction For An Essay For Elementary

Catching the Reader’s Attention

A good essay begins with an invitation into a rich discussion. The writing is crafted in such a way that it sparks anticipation and excitement in the heart and mind of the reader. Simply stating your opinion or the topic of the essay will never accomplish this. Engaging writing requires thoughtful attention to creating a hook for the reader.

Hooks can be created in an infinite number of ways, but here is a list of approaches that often prove valuable. Note that this is a list that you have likely seen before (most schools provide such a list), but be sure to read on as it is in the implementation of these ideas that they either succeed or fail:

  • Start with a thought-provoking quotation.
  • Start with a thought-provoking question.
  • Tell a thought-provoking story.
  • Make a surprising statement.
  • Present a simile or a metaphor to introduce your essay topic.

Each of these options presents an approach to opening an essay that can work if it is implemented effectively. Of course, implementing them effectively is where things get tricky.

A Thought-Provoking Quotation:

Depending on the topic of your essay and the resources you have available, it can be very effective to begin with a direct quotation from a relevant source on your topic that brings up key ideas or presents controversial opinions. You, as the author, can then respond to them and establish your position in relation to this statement. Be certain the quotation you choose directly relates to your chosen topic.

A Thought Provoking Question

Opening essays with questions is dangerous because they only work if the question causes your reader to genuinely wonder about something. Simplistic or obvious questions turn your reader off, so try another approach unless you are sure you have a question that really ties your essay topic to something personal for the reader or to some intriguing idea in the world.

A Thought-Provoking Story

As a fiction writer, this is my personal favorite. There are two options available here. One approach is to tell a true story in close-up intimate detail that directly relates to your topic. The other option is to craft a story around the factual details of your topic and helps to humanize it—taking your reader into the personal human experience of someone in a given situation related to your subject. Simply be sure to tell the story well and don’t forget to craft the story in such a way that it leads directly to the central point of your essay.

Make a Surprising Statement

This one is also a tricky way to go unless you have come across a very striking fact or are dealing with a controversial subject. In order for this approach to work, the statement must include something that will genuinely surprise the reader, which is difficult to do. In addition to shock value, the statement must also have direct relevance to your topic so that a strong transition can still be made into your central argument.

Present a Simile or Metaphor

Similes and metaphors are among the most powerful linguistic devices available. When used well, they can bring profound interest and insight to a given topic. Using them well is, of course, the hard part. The trick to using them well is be sure that the nature of the symbol you use shares a great deal in common with the subtleties of the topic you are discussing. The broader and more specific those connections are, the stronger its linguistic power.

The very best way to use a simile or metaphor in an essay is to introduce it with the opening paragraph and then continue to weave the connections between the symbol and the subject throughout the entire essay, eventually bringing the idea back together in the conclusion to create a circular structure to the writing. This requires insightful thinking and hard writing work, but makes for an exceptional essay.

Clearly Establishing Your Purpose

With your reader’s attention now in place, you must be certain that you also directly address the question or prompt to which you have been asked to respond. A colorful and engaging opening story is all well and good, but it is worthless if it does not lead into a straight and clear statement of your thesis (also known as “topic sentence” or “position statement”).

Keep in mind that, contrary to what is often taught in elementary school, the opening paragraph does not necessarily require a complete listing of the main points of your essay, though that can be helpful at times. The only non-negotiable requirement for an introduction is a direct and clear statement of purpose somewhere within that first paragraph. With more creative openings, it generally occurs near the close of the first paragraph, anticipating the deeper explanations that take place in the body paragraphs of the essay. Feel free to be creative, but do not forget to directly address the question you have been asked!

How to Write an Introduction

As the saying goes, there’s just one chance to make a first impression. For writers, that chance is in the introduction of an essay or text. If a writer can interest and engage a reader immediately, the writer has made a good first impression. Our worksheets on writing an engaging and interesting essay introduction are below. Simple click on the title to view more about the worksheet or to download a PDF. They are free for home or classroom use. Check out all of our writing worksheets!

Introducing a Topic: Giving Information

How do you name a pet or describe a good book at the library? In this activity, students introduce different topics based on prompts.

Grade Levels:
2nd and 3rd Grade, Grades K-12, Kindergarten & 1st Grade
CCSS Code(s):
W.1.2, W.2.2, W.3.2.A

Introducing a Topic: Opinion Writing

Students, especially beginning writers, sometimes have trouble getting started. This activity helps them learn how to introduce topics.

Grade Levels:
2nd and 3rd Grade, Grades K-12, Kindergarten & 1st Grade
CCSS Code(s):
W.1.1, W.2.1, W.3.1.A

Introducing a Topic: Telling a Story

This activity helps students learn how to clearly introduce a topic in a story they are telling. In this activity, students will write the setting of the story.

Grade Levels:
2nd and 3rd Grade, Grades K-12, Kindergarten & 1st Grade
CCSS Code(s):
W.1.3, W.2.3, W.3.3.A

How to Write a Thesis Statement

This activity helps students develop a strong thesis statement for their essays by providing practice writing sample statements.

Grade Levels:
6th - 8th Grade, 9th - 12th Grade, Grades K-12
CCSS Code(s):
W.6.1, W.7.1, W.8.1, W.9-10.1, W.11-12.1

How to Write an Introduction: Bridge Building Activity

This activity is designed to help students learn about writing introductions through a fun bridge building activity to join the lead noun card and thesis statement card.

Grade Levels:
6th - 8th Grade, 9th - 12th Grade, Grades K-12
CCSS Code(s):
W.6.1, W.7.1, W.8.1, W.9-10.1, W.11-12.1

How to Write an Introduction: Different Leads

This is a fun, creative activity where students explore ways to include factoids, stories, metaphors and more to create “hooks”. A great activity to help students develop strong introductions.

Grade Levels:
6th - 8th Grade, 9th - 12th Grade, Grades K-12
CCSS Code(s):
W.6.1, W.7.1, W.8.1, W.9-10.1

How to Write an Introduction: Lead Types

Creating an attention-grabbing lead isn’t always easy but it’s very rewarding to students when they are able to create engaging introductions. This activity provides great practice to build better introductions!

Grade Levels:
6th - 8th Grade, 9th - 12th Grade, Grades K-12
CCSS Code(s):
W.6.1, W.7.1, W.8.1, W.9-10.1

How to Write an Introduction: Lead, Bridge, and Thesis

Let’s combine it all! This activity helps students use thesis statements, bridges and leads to write strong essay introductions.

Grade Levels:
6th - 8th Grade, 9th - 12th Grade, Grades K-12
CCSS Code(s):
W.6.1, W.7.1, W.8.1, W.9-10.1

How to Write an Introduction: Write a Complete Introduction

This activity helps students bring together what they’ve learned to write a complete introduction, including the lead, bridge, and thesis statement.

Grade Levels:
6th - 8th Grade, 9th - 12th Grade, Grades K-12
CCSS Code(s):
W.6.1, W.7.1, W.8.1, W.9-10.1

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