Topic Sentences in Business Letters

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originally designed for 5th grade students

  • Start by reading With Love, Little Red Hen to the class. It is a bit of a longer read aloud, you might want to consider reading it the day before the lesson, or in two sittings.
  • After reading the story display the first letter to the class under a document camera. Point out the first sentence, the topic sentence, of the 2nd body paragraph. The sentence states that she is disappointed with her neighbors, and then the rest of the sentences in the paragraph give reasons for her disappoinment.
  • Display the second letter of the story and look at the third body paragraph, noting the topic sentence and how all of the sentences in the paragraph follow it.
  • Look at the third letter and notice the paragraph with the topic sentence "Personally I keep very busy"
  • Explain to students that you are now going to challenge them to put their knowledge of good topic sentences to use. Display the three strips from this worksheet and then display the paragraph. Have students tell their partner which sentence they think is the topic sentence for this paragraph and how they know why. Discuss as a class. Display the 4th letter of the book to show them the answer.
  • Then pass out the second worksheet. Have students cut out each of the strips and use them to create 3 paragraphs, each with 3 sentences in it, the topic sentence being put first. Review the answers together by viewing the 5th, 7th and 10th letters from the story and finding them in the letters.
  • For some writing practice, challenge the students to write another letter to go with the story. They can pretend to be Ms. Red Hen writing a letter to Little Red Riding Hood, thanking her for all of the help that she gave them. Use the Hidden Forest Directory at the back of the book to help the students address the letter, and then let them write the body on their own. They should have at least one good paragraph, complete with topic sentence, thanking Little Red for her help and giving some details about that.
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