Do you need ideas for teaching students about RELEVANT DETAILS?  This writing mini lesson will provide ideas for teaching students about writing relevant details in a paragraph including TRANSITION WORDS to help the paragraph flow smoothly. These ideas are ideal for any writing curriculum and are a part of a series of mini lessons for writer’s workshop designed for scaffolding through the writing process.


1. Teach

Within a paragraph, writers need to STICK TO THE TOPIC.  This means that everything in the paragraph is related to the topic sentence and is IMPORTANT!   VIP-P-  Very Important Part of the Paragraph!

  • These details support the topic and give the writing true meaning.
  • It creates imagery, a picture in the reader’s mind.
  • This is the perfect place to include personal experiences or detailed examples.

For example:

Paragraph:  Summer weather lets me play outside.  I have fun under the sprinkler with my brother.  We run through the water and scream each time!  It is refreshing to swim in the lake too.  At night, I play hide and seek with my friends.  I usually hide behind a big bush.  I love when the weather is warm!

2. Take Notes

Students should take notes and show examples.  VIP-P- very important piece to the paragraph!  This provides students with a future reference when writing paragraphs.

3. Apply

Students should write a paragraph independently or in partners and highlight the relevant details.  Then share with a small group or class.

4. Go Deeper

This is the perfect time to also teach about using TRANSITION WORDS or use it for differentiation. Transition words help sequence or organize the relevant details. They create a smooth and logical flow of the writing.  Transit- means pass through.


This may also be a good time to explain clauses and phrases to upper elementary students.

phrase is a group of words that may have nouns or verbs, but it does not have a subject.

leaving behind the cat
smashing into a wall
before the next movie
after the war

clause is a group of words in a sentence that has a subject and predicate. Some clauses may stand alone as their own sentence!

since she runs to music
when the saints go marching in
because he made the last shot
I dislike bullies

5. Practice

Practice identifying relevant details, irrelevant details, and transition words.  Also practice writing relevant details and transitions words.  Task cards are an effective way for students to practice during center time.  You are welcome to use the examples below when creating materials for your own class.

6. Assessment and Tracking

Assess some of the students’ work and track their progress.  This will be useful for future small instructional groups and review.

I hope this helps you and your students when writing relevant details and transition words in a paragraph!  



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Do you need a complete NO PREP Sentence Structure AND Paragraph Unit?  There are anchor charts, interactive notebooks pages, practice worksheets, and task cards for each of the following:  Complete Sentences, Fragments, Run-Ons, Topic Sentences, Rockin Beginnings, Indents, Relevant Details, Transition Words, Closing Sentences, and Clinchers!  As a Bonus- hamburger graphic organizer, and assessment!


Most of this lesson is also included in the STEP-BY-STEP Writing Notebooks® with mini lessons for paragraph, narrative, opinion, and informative writing designed to scaffold through the writing process. It includes anchor charts for teaching, interactive notebook pages for taking notes, modeled stories, mentor text, practice sheets, tracking forms, goal forms, prompts, and so much more! Click on the pic below to find out how to motivate students and boost test scores with this year-long STEP-BY-STEP writing program®!

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