Introductory Paragraph Walk-Through

After the Five Paragraph Essay Structure Overview lesson, you should now know what the essay actually looks like…where the blanks are…what the blanks are…what the essay itself is going to look like…

To further clarify what a passing essay looks like, we’ll do an actual walk-through of an actual essay.  We’ll do each paragraph in the outline step-by-step, piece by piece and start filling in those blanks.  For this lesson, we start with the Introductory Paragraph.

Introductory Paragraph Walk-Through Video Lesson:

Handouts for This Lesson

For this lesson, you need two handouts.

  • Five Paragraph Essay Structure – This handout is the the outline – your road map.
  • Introduction – This handout concentrates on just the introductory paragraph.  It provides spaces to handwrite sentences as you fill in the blanks and prompts on the side to help you see where each piece goes.

Both handouts are available on the Downloads page of

Make sure you have either printed copies or have these open somewhere on your screen, so you can follow along with the lesson.


The first thing you’re given on an essay is the actual essay assignment or topic.  For this walk-through lesson, I have deliberately chosen a very cheesy topic – very, very simple – but I wanted to make sure that anyone who watched this in the United States could actually relate to the topic a little bit.  So it’s kind of cheesy, but what we picked is:

Healthy Food Options for School Lunches and Snacks.

Everybody can relate to that.  We all know what healthy foods are and what should go in our school lunches – whether we’re buying them at school or packing them.  This particular topic should open up ideas for just about everybody – at least three points worth.

PreWriting / Brainstorming

Before you put pen to paper for any essay, the first thing you need to do is look at the topic that you’ve been given and ask yourself “What three points can I make about that topic?”

You’re basically thinking through your thesis statement or making an outline of the three points that you’re going to cover in the body paragraphs

This is really all the brainstorming you need to do, and I know a lot of people believe in clustering, free writing, and doing all sorts of prewriting and brainstorming techniques.  However, most of these essays are going to be timed, especially in the exam setting.  You have a limited amount of time in which to write them.  You have even less time to think about it.

Keep it simple and look at your topic, Healthy Food Options for School Lunches and Snacks, and ask yourself – “What three points can I make about that?”

  • You could talk about three different meals.
  • You could talk about three different menus.
  • You could talk about three different desserts, healthy desserts of course
  • Three different meats,
  • Etc.

What I decided to do for this walk-through is fruits…specifically, apples, oranges, and bananas.

…and that’s about all the preplanning and prewriting that I recommend before actually starting to write.

Thesis Statement

Since we’ve been given our topic, and we have our three points, apples, oranges, and bananas, in this case, it’s pretty easy to write out the thesis statement.  I know that’s the last part of the introduction, but it’s good practice to begin by writing that out, even if you just jot it down in a notes area.

If you’re typing the essay in a word processor, writing the thesis statement first is even easier.  Just enter a few line breaks and type it out.  You can always insert sentences before the thesis statement later to fill in the attention getter and explication.  Of course, on the handout, it goes near the bottom, beside the prompt since it’s the last sentence in the first paragraph.

The basic thesis statement example in the walk-through is:

Healthy food options for school lunches and snacks (our topic) include fruits such as apples, oranges, and bananas (three points).

Writing it down doesn’t mean that you can’t change the thesis statement, but it at least gives you a basis on which to start.

NOTE:  Once the thesis statement is written, you actually have a choice.  You can move onto the body paragraphs.  Since you’ve previewed them out – apples, oranges, and bananas

If your mind is already there, you can go ahead and do the body paragraphs with a topic sentence, define, explain, and give examples, if that’s where your train of thought is already going.

If you want to go ahead and complete the introduction before you do the body, this is where we go back to step one, and we do the attention getter.

Attention Getter

The attention getter doesn’t have to be anything fancy.  It doesn’t have to be great.  You’re just trying to PASS an essay, so you really just want to do something that’s going to get the reader’s attention.  Write something that’s going to draw interest, so the reader will want to keep reading.  Preferably, since the reader is likely grading this paper, you want to gain interest in a good way.  Use the attention getter to gain good will – not to tick off the grader.

NOTE:  For those who are particularly concerned about attention getters, a separate lesson covers types of attention getters and examples.

  • You can refer to things that the reader, in general, should know about.
  • You can refer to celebrities.
  • You can refer to local events
  • The attention getter can be anything that’s going on that might interest the reader.

What we’ve done in the walk-through example refers to a celebrity and a recent TV show.


Remember that this is your first sentence in the paragraph, so you actually need to put an indentation here.

Many people forget that.  Most everything online is justified to the left, but in an essay, you must have an indent either with a tab or with five to ten spaces to show that you’re beginning a new paragraph.

The attention getter we decided to go with on this walk-through starts off with a reference to Jamie Oliver and his TV show, Food Revolution.  The sentence actually reads:

     With the popularity of Jamie Olver’s Food Revolution and a general desire in the United States provide healthy lunches at school, many parents are packing lunches for their children.

That’s going to draw the reader’s attention because there are a lot of parents.  Chances are pretty good you’ll have someone reading your paper who is a parent.  The reader may or may not have kids, but anyone grading an essay certainly went to school.  We all had school lunches, so most readers should be interested in healthy school lunches.

Jamie Oliver is a famous chef who is involved with this TV show, Food Revolution – all involved with getting healthy foods for kids.  The beauty of this attention getter is that we are referring to the reader personally with references to school lunches and children.  We’re also referring to someone famous and a famous TV show.  The reader doesn’t even have to know what the show really is or even who Jamie Oliver is.  The fact that you cited them as an authority gives authority to your paper.


Now that we have our attention getter written, and we have our thesis statement, the only sentences we have left are in the middle of this paragraph.  It’s all under explication – which is a little further than explanation, as we’ve talked about before.  All you really need to do here is tie the attention getter to the thesis statement.

If you look at where we started, with the TV show and the people wanting healthy lunches for their kids – and people packing lunches for their children…then, we go in to the thesis statement of healthy food options for school lunches being fruits such as apples, oranges, and bananas – we need to put some filler sentences in there to see how they relate.

So, I added another sentence.  It’s almost another attention getter, since it’s another reference to the pink slime that’s trending in all the online videos.  …videos of the pink slime being used in the beef products, especially in the school system.  People are really upset about it, so I added:

Pictures and videos of the “pink slime” used in much of American ground beef products have disgusted many parents and even some children.

NOTE:  At this point, make sure that the separate sentences flow as a paragraph.  Don’t leave extra spaces and line breaks between sentences.  It needs to LOOK like a traditional paragraph.

NOTE:  Too, ask your teacher about writing style.  Different styles require a single or a double-space after a period.  Ask which one is correct for the assignment.

To tie the attention getter to the thesis even more, I added a transitional phrase to the beginning of the thesis statement and reworded it a bit.

Even kids know that they should be able to identify the food they consume, so at the request of some children, and in spite of others, many parents are returning to the simple and tasty fruits of their own childhood with apples, oranges, and bananas as healthy snacks and sides for school lunches.

With this modified thesis statement,

  • We still have our topic, healthy snacks and sides for school lunches.
  • We still have our three points.
  • We still have a thesis statement in the last sentence.

The new transitional phrase ties everything all together and shows the relevance.


Realize that in just under ten minutes, we’ve gone through a very quick walk-through of this entire introductory paragraph – which is about normal given the 30, 45, 60, or 90 minutes usually allotted for timed essay exams.  Ten minutes for the introduction is not bad.  …but I was doing a lot of talking too.

The ten minute video lesson doesn’t give you a lot of time to think through each of these steps as we were putting them in place.

So what I want you to do is take this topic – the one that we have in the walk through – Healthy Food Options for School Lunches and Snacks – or check the website.  Look through and see if you find other topics with which you might feel more comfortable.

I want you to practice just the introduction.  I want you to think about that topic.  I want you to think what three points you can make about that topic, and consider IF you can expand on those three points to define, explain, and give examples of them later in the body paragraphs.  Make sure you can do that, or those three points aren’t going to do you much good.

  • I want you to practice doing the thesis statement.
  • I want you to practice doing attention getters.
  • I want you to practice tying those two together
  • I want you to do a couple of these and just get comfortable with it.

In the next lessons, we’ll move on to the body paragraphs and the conclusion.


One Response »

  1. I think choosing a topic is one of the first hardest steps in writing any paper. It is where you would base your thesis statement, the content, the reference. Actually, it is where you would base the whole thesis. Anyway, a good advice should be, go for topics that you can manage. You have a lot of information, and know a thing or two.