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Hamburger Helper

January 11, 2018

Nothing helps a child learn a new skill more than making it practical. Just think about when you were a child. How many times did you wonder why on earth this teacher was making you learn this? You were NEVER going to use that skill again, right? 


Hamburger Helper is a teaching strategy that helps kids organize their paragraphs in a way that makes sense to them, in a practical way. And yep, you guessed it. It involves a hamburger. Hamburger Helper helps kids to organize thoughts into paragraph form while they structure their ideas and see how those ideas are related to one another. 



Step 1 is the bottom bun. It represents the introduction to the paragraph or the topic sentence. This tells the main idea of the writing. 


Step 2 includes your fillers like lettuce, tomato, and the burger. These represent details within the paragraph. You can add more toppings like cheese, bacon, and onions if you’re wanting more details from your kids. 


Step 3 includes the condiments. Mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup represent using sensory words, adjectives, transition words, and “juicy” words that keep your reader’s attention. You can point out that these are not necessary to have a hamburger, but that they do “taste good” and add flavor to your paragraph. 


Finally, step 4 includes the top bun. It is your concluding sentence. It is similar to the bottom bun, but it looks a little different. It’s what you see when you have your completed paragraph. This also holds the burger together. 


This strategy can be taught while kids are writing, but it can also be taught as they look at other paragraphs. Take a passage from a book and analyze a paragraph. Help your kids to see the buns, the fillers, and the condiments. 


As you’re teaching specific parts of the hamburger, you might have some of the ingredients already assembled and have your child just complete part of the cooking. 


You might also show how you can rearrange parts of the burger, like the filling and the condiments, to change the meaning somewhat. 


Hamburger Helper is a fun and interactive way to help your child make sure they have all they need to whip up a great hamburger…I mean paragraph. 


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