5th grade nonfiction writing samples

by: Jessica Kelmon | Updated: July 23, 2016

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5th grade writing samples

When it comes to writing, fifth grade is a red-letter year. To prepare for the demands of middle school and high school writing, fifth graders should be mastering skills required for strong nonfiction writing . Learn more about your fifth grader’s writing under Common Core . All students should be learning three styles of writing:

Informative/explanatory writing

Reports that convey information accurately with facts, details, and supporting information.

Narrative writing

Stories, poems, plays, and other types of fiction that convey a plot, character development, and/or personal stories.

Opinion writing

Writing in which students try to convince readers to accept their opinion about something using reasons and examples.

Fifth grade writing sample #1

Bipolar Children

This student’s report starts with a decorative cover and a table of contents. The report has eight sections, each clearly labeled with a bold subhead, and includes a bibliography. At the end, this student adds three visuals, two images from the internet with handwritten captions and a related, hand-drawn cartoon.

Type of writing: Informative/explanatory writing

Fifth grade writing sample #2

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team

Dylan’s report is thorough and well organized. There’s a cover page, an opening statement, and four clear sections with subheads, including a conclusion. You’ll see from the teacher’s note at the end that the assignment is for an opinion piece, but Dylan clearly writes a strong informational/explanatory piece, which is why it’s included here.

Fifth grade writing sample #3

The Harmful Ways of By-Catch and Overfishing

This student includes facts and examples to inform the reader about by-catch and overfishing. Then, at the end, the student tries to convince the reader to take a personal interest in these topics and gives example of how the reader can take action, too.

Type of writing: Opinion writing

See more examples of real kids’ writing in different grades: Kindergarten , first grade , second grade , third grade , fourth grade .

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example of an essay grade 5

When I look back to my first experience teaching five paragraph essays to fifth graders, I can remember how terribly unprepared I felt.

I knew that the five paragraph essay format was what my students needed to help them pass our state’s writing assessment but I had no idea where to start.

I researched the few grade-appropriate essays I could find online (these were the days before Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers) and determined that there was a structure to follow.

Every essay followed the same basic structure. I taught the structure to my students and they did well.

I have been teaching five paragraph essay structure and everything that goes with it for several years now. I hope that after you read this blog post, you will have a good understanding of how to teach and grade five paragraph essays.

Once you’ve learned all about teaching basic essay structure, you’ll be ready to grow your writers from “blah” to brilliant! 

Teaching five paragraph essays is just one part of teaching 5th grade writing. Click here to find out exactly how I teach writing to my 5th graders! 

Five paragraph essays - Start with simple paragraphs!

Start with Simple Paragraphs

We always start with simple paragraphs.

Yes, this is basic, but if your students cannot write excellent paragraphs, their five paragraph essays will be train wrecks. Trust me!

We spend a while cementing paragraph structure:

Topic Sentence

Closing Sentence

I give students topics, they come up with their own topics, we write together, they write with a partner or independently, the more variety, the better.

We have fun with simple paragraphs. Then, it’s time to move on to body paragraphs.

Five paragraph essays - organize and write body paragraphs

Organize and Write Body Paragraphs

Please refer to my five paragraph essay organizer below.

The three body paragraphs are absolutely crucial to the success of the five paragraph essay.

Some teachers have trouble teaching the structure of five paragraph essays because they start with the introduction paragraph.

Always teach the body paragraphs first!

example of an essay grade 5

I had a teacher say to me once, “What’s the point of just writing parts of the essay? They need to write the entire five paragraphs to get all of the practice they need.”

I understand that point. However, think of it as building a house. Should you test out the foundation and make sure it’s sound and sturdy before building on top of it? Absolutely! That’s what we’re doing here.

The three body paragraphs are the foundation of the essay.

Ask students to write out their three body paragraphs just like they have practiced…Topic sentence…Detail 1…Detail 2…Detail 3…Closing Sentence.

I “ooooh and aaaah” over their three paragraphs. Students are on their way to five paragraph essays, so be sure to build their confidence.

Five paragraph essays - introduction paragraphs

Teach the Introduction Paragraph

I have to say, this is my favorite paragraph to teach. The introduction paragraph is what draws readers into the essay and makes them want to read more.

We start with what I call a “hook.” The hook captures the readers’ attention and can come in many forms: asking a question, making a bold statement, sharing a memory, etc.

After the hook, I ask students to add a sentence or two of applicable commentary about the hook or about the prompt in general.

Finally, we add the thesis sentence. The thesis sentence always follows the same formula: Restate the prompt, topic 1, topic 2, and topic 3.

That’s all you need to write an excellent introduction paragraph!

I do suggest having students write the introduction paragraph plus body paragraphs a couple of times before teaching the closing paragraph.

Five paragraph essays - teach the closing paragraph

Teach the Closing Paragraph

In the conclusion paragraph, we mainly focus on restating the thesis and including an engaging closing thought.

With my students, I use the analogy of a gift.

The introduction paragraph and body paragraphs are the gift and the conclusion paragraph is the ribbon that ties everything together and finishes the package.

When you talk about restating the thesis sentence, tell students that they need to make it sound different enough from their original thesis sentence to save their readers from boredom.

Who wants to read the same thing twice? No one!

Students can change up the format and wording a bit to make it fresh.

I enjoy teaching the closing thought because it’s so open to however students want to create it.

Ways to write the closing thought: ask a question, personal statement, call to action, or even a quote. 

I especially like reading the essays in which a quote is used as a closing thought or a powerful statement is used.

Example of a Five paragraph essays

Example of a full five paragraph essay

example of an essay grade 5

Let’s Talk About Color-Coding!

Who doesn’t like to color? This is coloring with a purpose!

Training your students to color-code their paragraphs and essays will make grading so much easier and will provide reminders and reinforcements for students.

When students color-code their writing, they must think about the parts of their paragraphs, like topic sentences, details, and the closing sentence.

They will be able to see if they are missing something or if they’ve written something out of order.

Color-coding is a wonderful help for the teacher because you can skim to ensure that all parts of your students’ paragraphs and essays are present.

Also, when you are grading, you can quickly scan the paragraphs and essays. Trust me, you will develop a quick essay-grading ability.

I start color-coding with my students at the very beginning when they are working on simple paragraphs. I add the additional elements of the color-code as we progress through our five paragraph essays.

This is the code that I use:

example of an essay grade 5

Let’s Talk About Grading Five Paragraph Essays!

Imagine a lonely, stressed teacher grading five paragraph essays on the couch while her husband is working the night shift.

That was me!

Seriously, guys, I would spend about ten minutes per essay. I marked every little error, I made notes for improvement and notes of encouragement. I reworked their incorrect structure.

Those papers were full of marks.

On Monday, I proudly brought back the essays and asked students to look over them and learn what they needed to fix for next time.

You can guess what happened… there were lots of graded essays in the trashcan at the end of the day.

Make grading five paragraph essays easier!

I decided that my grading practices had to change. I needed my weekends back and my students needed to find their own errors!

This is my best advice:

STOP correcting every error!

Your students are not benefiting from marks all over their writing. They need to find those errors themselves so that they will remember their mistakes and change their writing habits.

Do a quick scan of each student’s writing as soon as it’s turned in to you.

If there are major problems with a student’s writing, call him/her over individually and show him/her what needs to be fixed or put the student with a competent peer editor who will help them fix mistakes.

If you have several students who are struggling with a skill, like closing sentences, do a mini-lesson on this topic.

You can do a mini-lesson with a small group. However, I prefer doing mini-lessons with the entire class. The kids who need help will get it and the rest of your class will receive a refresher.

It’s OK if there are some small spelling/grammar mistakes!

If the errors are few and they don’t take away from the meaning/flow of the essay, I don’t worry about them.

Our students are still learning.

Even your brightest star writer will have a few spelling/grammar mistakes from time to time.

Don’t discourage students from writing because of small errors.

Students who receive papers back with markings all over them don’t think, “Oh boy, my teacher has made it so easy for me to make all of these corrections.” They are thinking, “What’s the point in writing? I must be a terrible writer. Look at all of these mistakes.”

If your students are taking a standardized writing assessment, the structure and flow of their essays will be worth much more than perfect spelling.

Need more help?

I created this five paragraph essay instructional unit for teachers who are new to teaching five paragraph essays OR just need all of the materials in one place.

“Teacher Talk” pages will guide you through the unit and this unit contains all materials needed to help students plan, organize, and write amazing five paragraph essays! Click here to check it out:

example of an essay grade 5

I have a freebie for you! Enter your first name and email address below. You’ll receive three original prompts with five paragraph essay organizers AND two lined final draft pages!

Once your students are good essay writers…

These task cards will help your students stay sharp on their five paragraph essay knowledge. Students will review hooks (attention-getters), thesis sentences, body paragraphs, topic sentences, closings, and more. Each card contains a unique writing example!

I suggest using these task cards as a quiz/test, scoot game, individual review, or cooperative group activity.

Click on the image to view these task cards:

example of an essay grade 5

To save this post for later, simply pin this image to your teacher Pinterest board!

21 comments.

Wow! I really enjoyed reading this. I’ve always stressed over the thought of teaching writing, but your blog makes me think I can do it successfully. Putting your writing packet on my TPT wish list!

Thank you, Shannon! I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. I am so glad that my blog post was helpful to you!

Thanks for the tips! When I taught 6th grade I taught this same subject matter, but struggled to get started. I wish I had this then!

I appreciate your comment! Teaching was much different before Pinterest, wasn’t it?!?

This helped me so much!🙂 thanks a lot, I imagined being one student of yours. I’d be so smart and good at essays! Would’ve been so much easier in person❤️❤️❤️

Thank you so much, Aizlyn!

Thank you so much for this! May I ask where I can see the rubric for scoring the compositions?

You are so welcome! Click on the resource link. Then, you will see the rubric in the preview!

Thank you so much,I am a parent and this really helped me be clear how to guide my son. God bless you always.,

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

you are welcome!!!

This looks great! Looking forward to using your tips and freebies with my 6th graders. 🙂 THANK YOU.

You are so welcome! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!

Can’t wait to use this with my class tomorrow! Thanks a bunch for sharing!!

You are so welcome, Amy!

Thank you for making it easy to teach an essay with clarity.

You are very welcome, Yamuna! Thanks for taking the time to leave feedback 🙂

I am so happy I discovered your blog. I just started teaching grade 5 in September I have been searching for a simple method to hel me in guiding them in writing. I will be putting your method into practice in the coming week.

That’s wonderful, Cherry! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Welcome to fifth grade 🙂

Beautiful lesson well explained! Thank you so very much .

Thank you so much, Cheryl!

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In This Section

5th grade writing samples.

Fifth Grade Opinion Writing Sample 1

Fifth Grade Opinion Writing Sample 2

Fifth Grade Opinion Writing Sample 3

Fifth Grade Opinion Writing Sample 4

Fifth Grade Informative Essay Prompt

Fifth Grade Informative Essay Sample 1

Fifth Grade Informative Essay Sample 2

Fifth Grade Informative Essay Sample 3

Fifth Grade Informative Essay Sample 4

Fifth Grade Narrative Essay Prompt

Fifth Grade Narrative Essay Sample 1

Fifth Grade Narrative Essay Sample 2

Fifth Grade Narrative Essay Sample 4

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Help your 5th Grader Write a Great Essay

example of an essay grade 5

Writing essays can be a daunting task for students. 5th-grade students have a strong foundation of writing skills to help them construct body paragraphs and express their ideas using complex sentences. Still, they may need an extra push to write confidently and expressively.

The most challenging task when writing an essay is starting the writing process and learning to be confident.

Helping students tackle the task and build their confidence in writing multiple types of essays such as a persuasive essay, an informational essay, or even a narrative essay such as short stories takes a lot of practice, focus, and support from instructors and parents.

Learning to Express Ideas

Pre-writing is a crucial step in the writing process. Fifth graders should be in a place in their writing journey where they can perfect all the pre-writing strategies before they even write a word of an essay.

This will set them up to successfully construct excellent five-paragraph essays consistently.

When your child sits down to write a five body paragraph essay, the very first thing they should do is read the prompt. Understanding what the prompt is asking for is the first step in being proactive about writing an excellent essay.

You want them to ponder these questions: am I writing a persuasive essay? Am I writing an essay on a topic requiring me to do my research? Will I need to list evidence? Am I writing a narrative story that requires figurative language?

How to Successfully Brainstorm An Essay

One excellent way to get the brainstorm rolling is to have your fifth-grade student utilize a graphic organizer such as a cluster map as a way to write down all the related words or small phrases they can think of about the prompt.

The organizer will help get their creative minds rolling until they write something they are interested in or perhaps even excited about exploring further.

Brainstorming is a crucial component of teaching writing. This first step should be the most relaxed, no-pressure section for the student.

As a fifth-grader, your child will have a good idea of how to brainstorm different ideas on paper, but an essential part will be to organize these ideas into something of an outline.

Through brainstorming, students learn to think creatively to answer the prompt. Sometimes logical thinking is also required. For example, with a persuasive essay, students must brainstorm their arguments and develop reasons or evidence to back up their claims.

Supporting this step will allow students to perfect the details of the content they’re writing about and give them the main idea for their entire essay.

How to Turn a Brainstorm into an Outline

Encouraging your fifth grader to write a quick outline in a way that’s organized according to the five-paragraph essay format will give them a solid foundation to write their first rough draft.

These pre-writing skills are crucial in turning students from simple sentence writers into detailed five-paragraph essay writers.

Five-paragraph essays are the standard way to construct an essay, including writing an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Using this format, your fifth grader should write a short and straightforward outline that showcases every paragraph’s main ideas and contents in logical order.

Instead of freewriting the essay off the top of their head, an outline in the five-paragraph essay format will help your fifth grader have a guide to help them construct the first draft of their essay and flesh out ideas when they write body paragraphs.

Constructing a 5 Paragraph Essay

Read below for a brief five-paragraph essay instructional unit to help you guide your child in writing an exceptional essay.

1) How To Write An Introduction

In the five-paragraph essay format, the introduction is vital in grabbing the reader’s attention and holding it throughout the essay.

When teaching writing, the introduction is explained as the initial place to set up the topic of the essay. It usually requires a direct address of the contents to follow in the form of a thesis.

A thesis statement is a sentence in the introduction that directly answers the prompt and has reasons and evidence for the writer’s claim. It’s like a short preview of what the students will write about in their body paragraphs.

Furthermore, students write the thesis at the end of the introduction paragraph and ensure it follows a specific sentence structure to make it stand out as the most critical part of the intro.

2) How To Write Body Paragraphs

An excellent way to help students be confident in their work is to help them build clear strategies or steps to tackle daunting parts of an essay, such as a body paragraph.

Acronyms are one good way to remember all the steps of constructing a remarkable body paragraph. For example, TEEA is a wonderful acronym to get your fifth grader started on the task.

TEEA stands for:

T: Topic Sentence

The topic sentence is the very first sentence of a body paragraph. It explains what your section is about and its main idea. Ideally, this should be one sentence long and directly explain the topic at hand.

For the second section, you will want your fifth grader to answer the following question: WHY are you talking about this topic or idea? Why is this important? This should be about 2 or 3 sentences long because you will want your child to use lots of details to support the idea in the topic sentence.

  E: Example

In the third section, the student should prove what they explained about their topic by giving a solid, real-life example. This can be 2-3 sentences. The key here is to make the example applicable to the topic and explanation.

A: Analysis

Lastly, the analysis explains how the example supports your topic. This will probably be 1 or 2 sentences.

The analysis is the most tricky part of a body paragraph. The best way to get your child to think about this is to emphasize the how question. How does your example prove you are right? How does the example relate to the topic?

Using TEEA, your child will be able to construct a clear and strong body paragraph for almost any prompt or topic.

3) How to Write A Conclusion

Lastly, to conclude an essay, students must think about what idea they want the reader to leave with after reading their essay.

To start, students can use their introductory paragraph as a guide. They should restate their essay topic or thesis differently.

Next, students should summarize the main points made in the body paragraphs.

After this step, students can play the “so what?” game. Have your fifth grader think about what they’ve written in the conclusion, then answer the question, “so what?” Why is this important? Why should anybody care?

The very last sentence of the conclusion is a fantastic place to answer the “so what” question and leave the readers with a good impression or the desire for more information.

Using this instructional guide, with practice, your 5th grader will be able to construct logically sound and impeccably organized essays in no time.

example of an essay grade 5

The Reading Ranch Method

Struggling writers can experience various difficulties in any step of the writing process. The Reading Ranch Intervention Program is a research-based program to help students strengthen their writing skills in an interactive and dynamic environment. Our curriculum prides itself on being an interactive writing curriculum proven through various studies to immensely help struggling writers. Contact us today if you’re looking for help with your child who struggles in school and at home because they are stuck when they write and unable to keep up with their peers. We offer either online or in-person programs we feel confident we have something just right for every family.

Kiran Gokal   is a freelance writer, teacher, and lover of the written word specializing in content articles, blog posts, and marketing copywriting. For the past three years, she’s been teaching bright young students all about reading and writing at The Reading Ranch®,  while also lending her writing skills to different businesses and non-profits in the education sector.

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COMMENTS

  1. 5th grade nonfiction writing samples | Parenting Advice

    These writing samples show what good fifth grade writing looks like. When it comes to writing, fifth grade is a red-letter year. To prepare for the demands of middle school and high school writing, fifth graders should be mastering skills required for strong nonfiction writing.

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    Teach 5 paragraph essays like a pro! This post will show you my step-by-step method for teaching five paragraph essays in upper elementary.

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    168 South 3rd Avenue. Oakdale. CA. 95361. 209-848-4884. 5th Grade Writing Samples - Oakdale Joint Unified School District.

  4. 5th Grade Essay Writing Worksheets & Free Printables ...

    Fifth grade students are expected to master and utilize many skills when developing and writing essays. Our fifth grade essay writing worksheets will give them the encouragement they need to remain composed while composing.

  5. Grade 5 Writing Exemplars with Annotations

    Write an essay explaining how John Woodruff and Wilma Rudolph worked hard to achieve their goals. Your essay must be based on the ideas, concepts, and information from the “Stopping for Olympic Gold” and “Fastest Woman in the World” passage set. Plan carefully so that you can: read the passages; plan your response;

  6. Help your 5th Grader Write a Great Essay - Reading Ranch ...

    Read below for a brief five-paragraph essay instructional unit to help you guide your child in writing an exceptional essay. 1) How To Write An Introduction. In the five-paragraph essay format, the introduction is vital in grabbing the reader’s attention and holding it throughout the essay.