Staging a Good Paragraph: Calvert January Inspire

Staging a Good Paragraph

Tips by Martha Cole, Education Counselor

What can you do with colored index cards? No, not cover one eye for a vision test. They‘re not for writing recipes. Nope, not for an art project either. Colored index cards can be used to create a great hands-on resource for staging an academic paragraph.

What you will need:Calvert colored index cards

  • 1 metal snap ring
  • 14 colored 3” x 5” index cards (1 green, 3 yellow, 9 blue, 1 red/pink)

You will use the different colored index cards to physically build a paragraph with a topic sentence, supporting sentences, and a creative conclusion sentence.


Have your student complete the following steps to set up the paragraph cards.

1. Punch a hole in the top corner of each card.

2. Green card: On the unlined side, label it “TOPIC SENTENCE” in large letters.

3. Yellow cards: On the unlined sides, label them “SUPPORTING SENTENCE 1, 2 and 3” in large letters and place them behind the green card.

4. Blue cards: Divide into 3 sets of 3 cards. On the unlined side of one set of 3 blue cards, label them “DETAIL 1, 2, and 3” in large letters. Repeat with the other 2 sets of blue cards. Place 1 set (3 blue cards) after each yellow card.

5. Red card: On the unlined side, label it “CREATIVE CONCLUSION SENTENCE” in large letters and place it last.

By color, your completed card order will be G, YBBB, YBBB, YBBB, R.

Sample Wording

Let’s add some helpful sentence starters and transition words to the cards for handy reference.

Green Card (Topic Sentence)

On the back, write “There are many…” This is a basic topic sentence starter, which can be very helpful for young writers.

Yellow Cards (Supporting Sentences with transition words)

List these transition words on the back of the yellow cards.

  • Card #1: to begin with, first, in the first place, one example
  • Card #2: in addition, more over, next, as a matter of fact, furthermore, likewise, additionally
  • Card #3: lastly, finally, as a final point, consequently, furthermore

Blue Cards (Details)

Write on the 1st blue card only as the same information applies to all.

On the back of the first blue card only, add this list of starter words: generally speaking, of course, as a result, too.

Red Card (Concluding Sentence)

On the back, add: as you can see, it should be obvious

Check that the cards are in the original order and clip them together with the snap ring.

How to Use

This helpful paragraph tool can be used two ways. Without the blue detail cards, you can stage a very basic paragraph consisting of a topic sentence (green), 3 supporting sentences (yellow), and a concluding sentence (red), or G, Y, Y, Y, R. With the blue detail cards, an expanded paragraph can be staged (G, YBBB, YBBB, YBBB, R).

Each colored card reminds the student of each step and the order in the construction process, and offers helpful sentence starters. As a step is completed, flip the card over to reveal the next step. The card ring can be secured inside a binder for handy access.

A predictable pattern can be followed. Helpful sentence starters offer encouragement. The steps are in place to stage a good paragraph. Practice builds confidence in young writers and lays the foundations for continued growth.