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Teaching Your Third Grader to Write an Opinion Essay

The Opinion Essay

Third grade is the year when students really hone their reading and writing skills. At this grade level, teachers start to expect students to be able to make a thesis and support it with details and examples. Additionally, third graders should be able to make their essays flow smoothly by using transition words.

The skill levels in third grade vary tremendously because some students love to write and others hate it. The ones that hate it just want to be finished with the assignment. Basically, they write it and do not worry about whether it is good. Additionally, some students want to write well, but they do not have a good understanding of what they need to do. Providing a lot of guidance when you teach third-grade opinion writing can help the students produce coherent, well-developed essays.

Before teaching your child how to write an opinion essay, take a few minutes to look at a third-grade opinion rubric. Write an excellent essay, a good essay, and a poor one. It should only take you a few minutes, but a visual will help your child know how to write well.

Prompts Can Help a Third Grader Write Well

An outline can help a third grader write an opinion essay

An outline can help a third grader write an opinion essay

Steps for Teaching Your Third Grader How to Write Opinions

These steps and tips can help you teach your child how to write an impressive opinion piece. If he is a reluctant writer, he is likely to enjoy writing more as his skills improve.

  1. Look at a third-grade opinion rubric, and write three short essays before you begin.
  2. Introduce the concept of an opinion to your child, and talk about how to express an opinion.
  3. Explain the rubric to your child, and let him play teacher as he looks at your essays. Talk about what makes one essay better than the others.
  4. Next, give your child a topic and a graphic organizer to help him organize his thoughts.
  5. Give your child a basic outline to help him write his first essay.

1. Write Three Short Opinions Before You Teach

Look at a third-grade opinion rubric. Select a topic and write three short essays about it. Write one essay that clearly qualifies as an excellent essay; one that meets the requirements of a good essay, and one that is a poor essay. This will not take long because third-grade essays are usually not very long.

2. Introduce the Concept of an Opinion to Your Child

Knowing the definition of an opinion and being able to recognize one is the first step to being able to write an opinion essay. Make sure that your child understands that there are certain words that writers use to commonly express opinions.

Some popular words or expressions you may want to introduce to your child are:

  • I believe
  • I feel
  • In my opinion
  • I prefer
  • I think
  • I like

When introducing his opinion, it is likely that your child will use one of these expressions at the beginning of his essay. You can ask your child about a few of his preferences, and encourage him to answer you in full sentences using these words.

Rubrics Help Kids Learn

Rubrics help your kids improve

Rubrics help your kids improve

3. Explain the Rubric to Your Child and Let Him Play Teacher

Show your child the three essays you wrote. Ask him which essay he likes best. Talk about why one essay is better than the others. Identify problems with the essays he does not like. A strong essay should use a lot of transitions. Explain that these are connecting words that help the sentences flow in a natural progression. Talk about transition words that you used in the excellent essay. Brainstorm some transition words with your child. Some useful transitions are:

  • Additionally
  • First, second, third
  • Another reason
  • Furthermore
  • Finally

When your child looks at the essays, he is viewing an example of what to write and what not to write. Having a model to emulate will make it easier for him to know how to write because he can physically see the difference in quality.

4. Give Your Child a Topic and a Graphic Organizer

Choose a topic that you think your child will enjoy. Some popular third-grade opinion topics are:

  • What do you think is the best pet?
  • What is your favorite sport?
  • Should school be a full year?

There are many free graphic organizers online. Choose one that appeals to you. I like organizers that give students a place to put their opinions, reasons for their opinions, and examples.

5. Give Your Child an Outline

When students are first writing opinion essays, I like to help them by giving them starter sentences to fill in and prompts. If desired, let him refer to the rubric and your best essay as he writes. As your child's writing improves, he can transition from a graphic organizer to a blank page instead of an outline.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Abby Slutsky


Abby Slutsky (author) from America on September 07, 2020:

Thank you. Most teachers use them for grading, but I think it helps if kids know exactly what is expected of them, so I like to give them one when they write.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on September 07, 2020:

That rubric approach is a really good idea. I've never heard of it before. The schools here could do with using similair ideas to help kids write an opinion essay.