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Free Topic Sentence Activities for Elementary

A topic sentence tells the main idea of a paragraph. Therefore, identifying the topic sentences when reading can effectively improve a student’s comprehension. On the other hand, writing good topic sentences is extremely important in essay writing. What are some good topic sentence activities teachers can do in classrooms?

In today’s post, I will share my best practices for teaching how to write topic sentences and some topic sentence activities I like to do with my third or fourth-graders.

Here is a freebie of all the task cards mentioned in this post. Grab it by clicking here or the picture below. Otherwise, keep reading to learn more!

What is a Topic Sentence and How to Write One?

A topic sentence basically is the gist or main idea of a paragraph. There are various ways of writing topic sentences. But in elementary schools, we can give students four sentence starters to help them write good topic sentences.

Here are the four sentence starters:

  1. If… then…
  2. Even though…
  3. Since…
  4. When…

I modeled how to write topic sentences using each sentence starter on an anchor chart. Besides, I also made posters and displayed them on my literacy bulletin board, so students can refer to them throughout the year.

Topic Sentence Activity 1: Write Topic Sentences

In this activity, students are going to read passages without topic sentences. Then, they will write topic sentences for each passage. Students can do it individually, with a partner, or even in small groups.

Here are the specific steps:

  1. Color print, cut, and glue a card onto an envelope.
  2. Place envelopes in different areas of your classroom.
  3. Let students walk around (in pairs or small groups) and read the cards.
  4. Write their topic sentences on Post-its and stick the Post-its on each envelope. Or fold and throw them in each envelope if you don’t want the later students to see the previous ones.
  5. Collect all the envelopes at the end of the lesson.
  6. Share all the topic sentences and vote!
There are no standard answers. So encourage your students to be creative and this will be fun!

This activity may take a whole period depending on your grade level. However, if you don’t want students to move around too much because of the time limit, you can simply display one passage on your Smartboard.

Then, students can read and do a quick think-pair-share about a good topic sentence for the passage. Later, when students go back to their tables, you can give each student or table/group a passage to work on.

topic sentence activities

As you can see, there are four topic sentence task cards on one letter-sized paper. There are 12 passages in total that cover various topics, including:

  1. Water
  2. Adaptation
  3. Water Cycle
  4. Forces
  5. Bullfrog
  6. Native American Housing
  7. Colonial Time
  8. Checks and Balances
  9. Camouflage
  10. Photosynthesis
  11. Statue of Liberty
  12. Gravity

Topic Sentence Activity 2: Write Supporting and Concluding Sentences

This activity is similar to the previous one, but this time, students need to write supporting and concluding sentences based on a topic sentence. There is a picture on each card to help students brainstorm ideas.

topic sentence activities 2
topic sentence activities 2
topic sentence activities 2

You can do this activity just like the one before. I like to assign this as homework because writing supporting and concluding sentences may take a while, especially for my struggling writers.

In addition, this is a great activity for differentiated instruction. Students at different levels can write supporting and concluding sentences with various sentence types and lengths. There are no standard answers.

Topic Sentence Activity 3: Matching Topic Sentences to Passages

This activity uses the same reading materials as the previous activities. To provide extra scaffolding to your struggling writers, ELLs, or students with special needs, I added matching topic sentence cards like the ones below.

Thus, students can start by matching a topic sentence to a passage (without a topic sentence). Once they get familiar with the passages, they can move on to write their own topic sentences for all the passages.

Students can record their answers on the provided recording sheet or simply on their literacy notebooks.

To Sum Up

Above I shared ideas and activities that elementary teachers can use to teach topic sentences.

If you find them helpful, you may create materials to use with your students. Or you can get the freebie below to save some planning time.

Click here to get the topic sentence freebie.

Besides, if you like the ideas and activities, you may check out these related products from my store by clicking the pictures below.

topic sentence activities
This includes the 3 topic sentence activities discussed above
main idea lesson and worksheets
32 Google Slides & 36 Differentiated Worksheets
Google Slides, Worksheets, Graphic Organizers & Task Cards
Topic Sentence Posters are included in this product

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Happy teaching, 

Ingrid

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