How to Help Your 4th Grader Write a Biography

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Assignments can differ from one teacher to another, but most fourth-grade biography papers will involve a specific format. If you don't have detailed instructions from their teacher, you can follow these instructions to help your child develop a great paper.

Every paper should have the following sections:

Cover Page

The cover page gives the reader information about your child, their teacher, and the subject of your child's paper. It also makes the work look more polished. The cover page should include the following information:

  • The title of your child's paper
  • Your child's name
  • The name of your child's teacher and their school
  • Today's date

Introductory Paragraph

The introductory paragraph is where your child introduces his topic. It should contain a strong first sentence that gives the reader a clear idea of what the paper is about. If your child is writing a report about Abraham Lincoln, the opening sentence may look something like this:

Abraham Lincoln once described himself as an ordinary man with an extraordinary story.

The introductory sentence should be followed by a few sentences that give a little more information about the topic and lead up to your child's "big claim," or thesis statement. A thesis statement is not merely a statement of fact. Rather, it is a specific claim that will be argued and defended later in the paper. The thesis statement also serves as a roadmap, giving the reader an idea of what is coming next.

Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs of the biography are where your child goes into detail about their research. Each body paragraph should be about one main idea. In a biography of Abraham Lincoln, your child might write one paragraph about Lincoln's childhood and another about his time as president.

Each body paragraph should contain a topic sentence, support sentences, and a transition sentence.

A topic sentence states the main idea of the paragraph. Support sentences are where your child goes into detail, adding more information that supports the topic sentence. At the end of each body paragraph should be a transition sentence, which links the ideas from one paragraph to another. Transition sentences help guide the reader and keep the writing flowing smoothly.

Sample Body Paragraph

A body paragraph may look something like this:

(Topic sentence) Abraham Lincoln struggled to keep the country together when some people wanted to see it split apart. The Civil War broke out after many American states wanted to start a new country. Abraham Lincoln showed leadership skills when he led the Union to victory and kept the country from splitting in two. (Transition) His role in the Civil War kept the country together, but led to many threats to his own safety.

(Next topic sentence) Lincoln did not back down under the many threats he received. . . .

Summary or Conclusion Paragraph

A strong conclusion restates your child's argument and sums up everything they have written. It should also include a few sentences that repeat the points your child made in each body paragraph. In the end, your child should include a final sentence that sums up the whole argument.

Although they contain some of the same information, the introduction and the conclusion should not be the same. The conclusion should build on what your child has written in their body paragraphs and wrap things up for the reader.

Sample Summary Paragraph

The summary (or conclusion) should look something like this:

Although many people in the country did not like Abraham Lincoln at the time, he was a great leader for our country. He kept the United States together when it was in danger of falling apart. He also stood brave in the face of danger and led the way to equal rights for all people. Abraham Lincoln is one of the most outstanding leaders in American history.

Bibliography

Your child's teacher may require a bibliography at the end of the student's paper. The bibliography is simply a list of books or articles that your child used for his research. The sources should be listed in a precise format and in alphabetical order.