First steps in essay writing for primary school students

It is often difficult to get young learners closer to understanding the main purpose and development of an opinion essay.

Posted by Karina Castro

This resource could become an easy starting point to help them generate ideas and produce consistent lines. A good source of inspiration is essential for this kind of task. A couple of months ago I found an essay in pictures by Neil Gaiman published in The Guardian. It is part of Gaiman’s larger work Art Matters, and of public access. It explains the importance of reading, libraries preservation and daydreaming.

The use of this material could benefit students both by connecting them with a different kind of literature and encouraging them to write their own ideas on the topic.

1. Start by showing on your classroom screen the different parts of the essay (or print them and paste them all over the classroom). Select students to read them aloud and invite them to make comments and provide their own opinion: Do they agree? What would they add to each sentence? What other ideas would they include?

2. Encourage your students to join in groups and write down their own ideas starting by those of the author. Eg: Reading is important because…; Books are …, etc.

3. Ask students to check grammar and spelling. Help them when necessary.

4. Share their final works.

You may take notes on the board of those sentences whose contents reflect their strongest points of view and guide them to reorder them so that they have a logical connection and result in a clear statement of what they think on the issue.


After that first try, you could encourage your students to write about different topics like:

- Our environment needs our help

- Learning languages is our gate to the world

- A creative mind will always make a free person

You may use any other topic you are working with or they suggest. This time you should let them work on their own: alone, in pairs or in small groups. Make sure they can count on you during the process.

Cross-curricular - Language + Art

As the last step for this task, you could join the Art teacher, who can work with the students to illustrate each of their lines/ideas. The final result would be a real “essay in pictures” which could decórate your classroom, the school’s reception, one of the school’s corridors or, why not, become the central part of the school’s Art Display this year! Give it a try, and writing an opinion essay won’t be that tough (or boring) for your students next time!

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