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Step-by-Step Explanation of How to Write a Research Paper for Elementary Students

by Melissa Nicholas

Elementary students are often required to write research papers containing five or more paragraphs. While not as in-depth as the papers students in the upper grades are assigned, elementary research papers can be on a variety of topics, including biographies on historical figures and science fair topics. Learning how to write a research paper in elementary helps to prepare students for the more rigorous writing assignments they will receive in middle school.

Instructions

Help your child create an outline for his research paper. Make sure the outline contains ideas for the introduction, a conclusion, the body of the essay and a bibliography. Ensure that your child represents each body paragraph in the outline with a subtopic. For instance, if the topic is a state, subtopics could include population, state flag and state history. The outline will help keep your child on topic.

Assist your child in conducting online research. Encyclopedias, newspaper articles and magazines can also provide valuable information. Take him to the public library to find information that will help him write the paper and guide him through the process of using the electronic card catalog. Have your child write down the sources of the information he gathers because he will need to cite them in his bibliography.

Explain to your child that skimming involves looking only for main ideas and ask him to skim the information from the sources he collected. Have your child take notes on index cards or paper that will help support his topic and subtopics. Scholastic recommends using bookmarks or sticky notes to mark pages for further reading.

Ask your child to write a title for the paper. Double check to make sure it is directly related to his topic. Have him write an introduction by starting with a sentence that serves as a hook. Remind him that beginning with a statistic, extraordinary fact or quotation can capture readers’ attention. To complete paragraphs, instruct your child to add sentences that let readers know what the paper will be about.

Refer to each subtopic in the outline and have your child write a topic sentence for each body paragraph that introduces a new subtopic. Instruct your child to complete each body paragraph by writing sentences that support each subtopic. For example, if he is writing about a state and the state bird is one of his subtopics, he should include sentences in that particular paragraph that give the name of the bird, describe its appearance and tell when it was chosen as the state bird.

Read the paper with your child to help remind him of the most important points in his paper. Ask him what the main points are and have him use his statements to write a conclusion paragraph. Double check to ensure he doesn't introduce new information in the conclusion paragraph.

Remind your child that a bibliography is a list of sources used to gather information, and guide him in creating a bibliography for the paper. Your child's instructor has most likely given him an example of the bibliography format your child should use. Make sure your child follows that format explicitly, including capitalization and punctuation as required.

Ask your child to read the paper aloud as you check it against his outline to make sure he didn't leave important information out of his paper. Read his paper to check for errors in spelling and grammar and to ensure it flows well. Have him make corrections.

Items you will need
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Reference materials

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Melissa Nicholas has been writing features articles since 1995. She was a features writer and columnist for “The Gainesville Times” newspaper and “The Island Packet” newspaper. During that time, she received Associated Press awards for features writing and for newspaper page design.

Photo Credits

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