How to Write an Outline for Fifth Grade

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Fifth grade students begin to explore the wonders of writing fiction and nonfiction papers. With this new territory comes learning how to create a flow of thoughts and convincing arguments through effective outline writing. Outlines are a fantastic tool for illustrating the parts of an essay as well as for helping fifth graders create concise and logical flow in their writing.

1 Brainstorm

Brainstorm about the idea or topic under discussion. What are the main points to be discussed? What is the main argument or conclusion? What evidence will you be using for support? These ideas will help create a solid outline by introducing the main ideas you would like to organize.

2 Write the Roman numeral

Write the Roman numeral “I” followed by the title “Introduction.” Write out a main topic sentence to represent the introduction of the paper. For example, if you are going to discuss wildlife in the southwest, a topic sentence would be: “The southwest holds a wide range of plants and animals that are both friendly and dangerous.” This sentence introduces the readers to the topic under discussion.

3 Create a header

Create a header underneath the introduction that says “II. First Topic.” Behind this header, place the topic sentence for your first point or argument, which will introduce the reader to your next train of thought. Keep this header to one topic, rather than a wide range of topics. This header will represent a single paragraph. For example: “Rabbits are one of the most commonly found kinds of wildlife in the southwest.” Underneath the topic sentence include any details or sources of information that will help bolster your discussion of the topic. These details should be organized behind letters of the alphabet. For example: "A. Rabbit food" or "B. Habitat."

4 Repeat Step 3

Repeat Step 3 with as many topics as you want to discuss, using the next Roman numeral in the sequence to keep the topics in order. Normally, you should only have about three to five main topics to discuss. Each topic in the outline should include the topic sentence for the new subject and any relevant information underneath.

5 Create a conclusion section for the outline

Create a conclusion section for the outline. This section of the outline should include a single sentence that sums up your review of the topic at hand. For instance: “Wildlife continues to flourish in the southwest in many different combinations and climates.”

6 Keep the outline

Keep the outline simple and to the point. You do not have to include every idea or resource you have. The outline should just be a way to organize your thoughts and put your topics in the order in which they will be discussed. Move topics around and rewrite the outline a few times until the ideas seem to work together.

Sarah Vrba has been a writer and editor since 2006. She has contributed to "Seed," "AND Magazine," Care2 Causes and "202 Magazine," among other outlets, focusing on fashion, pop culture, style and identity. Vrba holds an M.A. in history with an emphasis on gender and fashion in the 19th century.