Paragraphing with dialogue

From Mechanically Inclined

Jump to: navigation, search

Use this lesson to help students discover that you need to start a new paragraph every time a new person speaks


This lesson was originally used with 4th graders.


  • Read And The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon to the class. It is written by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel. It was a CA Young Readers medal winner a few years ago, so your library may have it. It takes 10-15 minutes to read but it is a fun story!
  • Display the page that begins with No Bones about it that is about half way through the story (the text doesn't have page numbers so bare with me)
  • Ask students to discuss with a partner or small group How many paragraphs are on this page?
    • Some kids will say 0, others 1, some 5.
    • Help lead them to the answer that there are 5 paragraphs on the page. The trick is that they are all one line long, and all indented. Some students will say there are 0 paragraphs because they don't see any indents.
    • Help lead them to the discovery that there is a new person talking in each paragraph. Be sure to solidify the rule they just learned. Every time a new person talks, you need to start a new paragraph.
  • Display the next page that starts with Wolf opened the door
  • Ask students to discuss with each other observations they can make about the dialogue and paragraphing.
  • Discuss these observations as a class. Be sure to notice that if the same person talks again, there is no need to start a new paragraph.
  • Display the next page that starts Wolf grabbed her
  • Reinforce the rules they just learned by pointing out the paragraphing on the page.
  • Pass out the worksheet and have students demonstrate their understanding by recopying the text at the top of the worksheet on the lines below, organizing it into correct paragraphs as they go.
Personal tools