A well-written introductory paragraph hooks the reader, previews the contents of the entirety of the essay in a thesis sentence and lays out the plan for the rest of the essay. When an elementary student accomplishes these elements of the introductory paragraph, the rest of the essay usually falls into place.

The Hook

Lure the reader into reading the rest of the essay with a hook. According to Step Up to Writing, strategies to interest the reader include using an anecdote, a startling fact, a quotation, poetry, or humor; starting the paper with a question; relating the essay to literature, the news, history, or movies; and presenting important facts related to the topic.

For example, when writing an essay about shark attacks, hook the reader with startling facts about the number of shark attacks each year, relate the essay to a recent story in the news about sharks or start the paper with a question, such as "Are you afraid to swim in the ocean?" The reader will be hooked and looking forward to the rest of the essay about shark attacks.

Thesis Statement

The thesis statement contains the main idea of the essay. Write the thesis statement as an occasion/position statement. When writing an occasion/position statement, start out with an occasion phrase -- although, while, as if, until, whether, whenever, if, even though or since. Finish the occasion and the purpose for the writing and end with the position. The position is the writer's opinion. For example, "Although there are many great rivers in North America, the Colorado River rushing through the Grand Canyon is one of the most powerful" provides a purpose and the writer's opinion. Proving the Colorado River is one of the most powerful rivers in North America is the purpose of the essay.

Write the Plan

Write a plan sentence as part of the introductory paragraph. The plan names the topics of each paragraph in the body of the essay, which will help prove the position of the writer in the thesis statement. "When Martin Luther King marched in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, he showed bravery, dedication and leadership." Each element of the plan is the topic of a paragraph in the body of the essay.

Other Considerations

After the introductory paragraph is written, read it aloud. Make sure the thesis sentence states the purpose of the essay. If the purpose is not clear, rewrite the statement until it clearly states the reason for the essay and the writer's opinion.

Once the introductory paragraph is written, write an outline for the body of the essay using the elements from the plan listed in the introductory paragraph. Keep in mind that proving the thesis statement should guide the writer through the rest of the essay.