Step Up to Writing

Step Up to Writing


Step up to Writing teaches writing strategies to help students organize their thinking and their writing. It is used  for informational, expository writing and also has an organizational component for story writing.  First graders start out learning how to write good, solid paragraphs.  As they progress through the grades, they will learn to expand each detail into its own paragraph, eventually forming a well-constructed essay. 

First graders learn some key strategies in the Step-Up to Writing Program for expository writing:

·         How to write topic sentences.

·         How to use transitions between ideas (first, next, then, last).

·         How to write conclusion sentences.

Accordion Paragraphs: use color to define the paragraph components and structure. You will hear your child talk about the stoplight and refer to their greens, yellows and reds.

Greens     = Go!  Write a topic sentence or concluding sentence.

Yellows    =  Slow Down.  Using a transition,  give a reason, detail or fact.

Reds         = Stop! Explain your reason, detail or fact. Give an example.

By the end of first grade, your child should be able to write a basic paragraph following this structure:

Green: Topic Sentence







Green: Conclusion sentence


Topic Sentences (Green):  


Number statements: This is a type of topic sentence that contains a number. Here are some commonly used examples:



a couple




a number


Example Sentences:

1.  I love baseball for many reasons. 

2. I have learned three things about penguins.

Question statements: Contain a question as part of the topic sentence. The question can be part of the first sentence or the second.


1.       Have you ever been to Disneyland? I have.


                         or flip it like this:

2.      Ive been to Disneyland. Have you?

Transition sentences (Yellow):

Transition words: are used in a paragraph to let the writer/reader know that a new detail (yellow) is being introduced.

Transiton words for 1st yellow

Transition words for 2nd yellow 

Transition words for last yellow




To begin,



One way,

Another way,


In the beginning,

After that,


It started when,


A third way,

*If a paragraph has more than 3 yellows (details) students should choose all of their transition words with the exception of the first and last from the middle column.

Here's what it looks like when it's all put together.

* dog

* fetch

* balls

* swim

* swimming pool


* keep safe


Using the stoplight plan above, this is how the finished paragraph with a number statement sentence may look. I've color coded it so you can see how the "colors lay in" from the plan.

        I love my dog for three reasons. First, my dog love to play fetch with me. He fetches almost anything that I throw. Next, he really loves to swim. Anytime Im in the pool, he jumps right in and swims around with me. Last, I enjoy taking my dog on walks with me.  He keeps me company and makes me feel safe. My dog loves me and I love him!.