Persuasive writing is not just appropriate for high school essays; you can prepare simple persuasive writing activities for students in primary grades (grades 1 to 4) too. Fundamentally persuasive writing expresses the writer's opinion, and kids certainly have opinions. Primary students can learn to form their opinions into sentences and paragraphs with help from the teacher.
Choosing a Topic
Topics that do not require any research or prior knowledge are appropriate for primary level persuasive writing. For example, choose topics that every student can relate to, such as family, playing, school, etc. Form the topic into a question which the student will answer. "Why do you like living with your family?" or "Do you think children should play sports?" are suitable writing topics for students in primary grades.
Teaching Relevant Vocabulary
Learning relevant vocabulary and phrases will help students form their ideas into words. Teach the students phrases such as "I agree/disagree that...," "I think/feel that..." and "In my opinion..." The teacher can write sample sentences on the board with words left out so students can fill in the blanks, for instance: "In my opinion, children _ (should/should not) play sports because __." Depending on the skill level of the students, the teacher can also review conjunctions such as "but" and "yet" and even introduce transition words such as "however" and "also."
Easier Writing Activities
Tailor your persuasive writing activities to the grade you are teaching. Students in grades 1 and 2 may experience difficulty grasping the concept of "supporting your argument." Providing examples for them simplifies the activity. For example, if the argument is "In my opinion, children should play sports," list three reasons why on the board (e.g., "Sports keep you healthy"). Then the students can practice including the ideas in their own sentences.
Advanced Writing Activities
For teachers of grades 3 and 4, students can be given more independence to choose their opinion and examples. Teachers could list examples on the board which support either side of an opinion and students have to select appropriate examples and supplement with their own if desired. Alternately, students can come up with all of their own examples by brainstorming using lists or concept maps. At this level, the teacher can also introduce skills such as paraphrasing by having students restate their opinion in different words.
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