November 16, 2022 11:44 am

Sarah Pye

I spent four years during my Doctor of Creative Arts degree learning how to write well. The result was my book Saving Sun Bears which was published in 2020.

It tells the amazing story of a Malaysian ecologist as he struggles to save a species. I am proud of this book.

Not only because of the subject matter but also because I learned many different writing techniques along the way. Techniques which I incorporated... Like how to write great paragraphs!

Sarah Holding Saving Sun Bears Teach Kids Great Paragraphs

How To Write Great Paragraphs: Sarah's Top Tips

Paragraphs are the building blocks of good writing and today, I want to help you teach kids how to write killer paragraphs. Feel free to use these examples in the classroom or with your children and let me know how you go!

TEEL paragraphs

It doesn’t matter if kids are writing an assignment or an exam essay, if they use the TEEL paragraph structure, it keeps their writing on track and stops them heading off on tangents.

TEEL is an acronym which stands for:

  • Topic sentence
  • Explanation or Elaboration
  • Example of Evidence
  • Linking sentence

T is for TOPIC

The topic sentence is the main idea of the paragraph. Here’s an example:

Sun bears are the least known bear in the world.

This sentence acts like a flag to the reader by telling them what is coming up. Having this detail upfront makes reading less confusing. 

It also allows a reader to speed read by simply reading the first sentence of each paragraph. Perhaps give your students a book and ask them to give it a go. 

Can they get the gist of the story if they read just the first line of each paragraph for a couple of pages? If they can, the writer has used the TEEL method.
Creative Writing Teach Kids To Write Great Paragraphs


The next section is a sentence (or a couple of sentences) which gives more information about the topic.

They should think of this section as answering questions like Where, What, Why, How or When. For example:

Although there are eight bear species, very few people have heard about the Malayan sun bear. This bear has black fur with a gold chest patch. It lives in the Bornean rainforest and spends most of the day high in the trees.


Kids are NOT experts… even teens who think they are!

Therefore, it is important to back up the topic with evidence. This section could include researched facts or quotes. In some of my school workshops, I ask children to help me research my next book by finding facts online about Sumatran Rhinos.

I also asked them to see if they could find a credible expert I could interview. This leads to a discussion about what is credible evidence!  

Here’s an ‘evidence section’:

Dr Wong Siew Te has studied sun bears for over 30 years. Now he runs the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre and he is a leading expert in sun bear conservation. “I spend a great deal of time educating people about this species,” he said. “I need people to understand their importance, so they want to help save them from extinction.”

L Stands for LINK

The last part of the TEEL paragraph is really important. It acts as the conclusion of the paragraph.

This is a sentence that either links back to the topic of the paragraph, OR links to the next paragraph. Sometimes it can do both like this one:

Although Dr Wong’s awareness-building activities are making a difference. There is still a long way to go: the orangutan is still the recognisable image of  Borneo.

Can you see how this section talks about how Dr Wong is making a difference (linking back to the topic sentence) AND it introduces a NEW idea that can start the next paragraph by focusing on orangutans?

Writing Great Paragraphs Conclusion

Teaching kids how to write great paragraphs not only makes life easier for the teacher, but it helps the kids to:

  • Stay on track
  • Keep their writing succinct
  • Break a difficult job (or even a huge book) into manageable sections

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this method.

Let me know in the comments below and also, search my website to find more free classroom resources. Check out the Wildlife Wong series while you're there!

Special Christmas Offer!

Click on the image below to find out more about my special "personally signed, 5 book" Christmas special. Only $65 which includes postage in Australia.

Christmas banner for WW books with price
About the Author

Sarah Pye is a nature and wildlife nerd. When she’s not writing or teaching, she can be found outdoors… camping, kayaking, exploring or walking with her dog Gypsy.

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