Episode 183

Teaching Persuasive Writing in the Early Years

Recorded by | Run time: 19 min, 23 sec


Persuasive writing in the early years is a complicated skill to master. Understanding the generic structure of a persuasive text, using correct spelling and punctuation with varied sentence structure, and understanding and incorporating the persuasive devices is a lot!

In this episode, Early Years teacher and blogger Holly shares her top tips and best resources for teaching persuasive writing to young children.

Teaching Persuasive Writing to Students Classroom Resources

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Persuasive Writing in the Early Years Full Episode Transcript

Bron: Hello. Today’s episode is all about persuasive writing in the early years and how to teach it effectively.  Today I’m joined by Holly from Teach Starter. Hey Holly, how are you?

Holly: Hey Bron, I’m great. Thank you.

Bron: So good to see you. And we are recording of course, from home, which is how we’re doing things these days and we’re rugged up. Are you feeling the cold?

Holly: Oh, it’s actually freezing in my house. I’ve got my nice warm coffee to keep me warm.

Bron: Same. Just like in the office. We’ve always got a coffee at this time of day.

Holly: So that’s exactly right. Creatures of habit.

Bron: Yeah. So when we’re thinking about persuasive writing, it’s such an important skill to teach students because of course we know that it’s included in national testing and also that it forms the foundations for their writing skills later in schooling because persuasive is a text type that goes right up.

Why is persuasive writing in the early years a bit of a complicated skill to master?

Holly: Well, I think the word persuasive is also a word that the kids are probably like “What even does that mean to start with?” Um, and I think adding any text type learning into the writing process for little kids just adds another element that they need to understand and grasp when they’re writing. Um, especially for little learners, understanding the structure of a persuasive piece is just something else to think about while remembering capital letters, full stops, punctuation, um, you know, they need to remember other language devices such as high modality words. They need to remember sequencing language. I mean it’s just so much that they need to think about all while writing sentences with all of that to think about, I guess.

Bron: Yeah, it is a lot to take on and we start teaching it in grade two or even before that.

Holly: Yes it comes in quite early.

So what’s the earliest you ever taught persuasive writing as a text type?

Holly: We taught, at one school I was at we started… we did touch on persuasive writing at the end of year one. Um, just so that they understood what persuasive writing was about. But definitely in year two you obviously to get them ready for NAPLAN the next year. Um, there was a big unit that we focused on persuasive writing. Yeah. Yeah. So seven, eight years old, that’s pretty young to grasp all of those different things and get them all happening to be able to produce a piece of text.

What are some ways that teachers can model persuasive writing structure for their students?

Holly: Yeah, so I found in my classroom having, uh, it’s quite, it’s quite simple, but it definitely worked.  A persuasive text structure display visible in the classroom was fundamental. So, um, I always had this visible in the classroom right at the front on the white board or the blackboard or whatever, and it took up like half of the board during the unit. Um, the reason for this is that display really supported the teaching of persuasive writing and it also gave the kids a bit of confidence to give it their best shot when they were having a go at their own writing. Um, so it just, I guess it adds a level of comfort to the young children knowing that they had something that they could look up to if they got stuck when they were writing their persuasive text.

So yeah, back in the day I created a really bland looking resource that I put up in my classroom. It was just handwritten posters. I think I put a pretty border on it or something to make it look a little bit visually appealing, but I wasn’t great at that. Um, and when I started at Teach Starter, I actually, and we were starting to create some resources for persuasive writing for the early years, I knew the first resource I was going to be making, which was exactly that because I had obviously amazing graphic designers to help make it look pretty.

So yeah, that’s, it’s available on the website. Actually, it’s a free download and I think it’s been downloaded over 28,000 times. So obviously teachers are using it and it’s been worthwhile.

Download our popular Persuasive Text Structure Poster Set for your class. 

Bron: Oh wow. That’s so exciting. 28,000. That’s huge. I was one of those 28,000, because before I came to work at Teach Starter, I had this up on my wall because I was teaching, writing project. So I was just teaching persuasive writing and narrative writing to grade threes, which was super nice. And yeah. So cool that something you made is on that many classroom walls around the world.

Holly: So very funny and it’s a really beautiful result.

Take us through what comes in that packet with all of the  Persuasive Text Structure Posters?

Yeah, sure. So, um, there’s, it’s, it’s quite a big set of posters and the first set, um, includes these cute little letter characters that are there to represent each paragraph of a standard persuasive piece of writing. Bearing in mind it is geared for the early years. Um, so there’s a little, “I” cute little I character for introduction and then there’s three, A characters for each of the arguments, um, that the children need to put into their persuasive writing. And then there is a cute little C character for the conclusion and each poster with those cute little characters has a brief description of what that particular paragraph will be about. And then there’s also a list of sentence starters to help the students because I found having that up on the wall really gave them that extra element of comfort. If they did get stuck, sometimes it’s hard for them to start the paragraph, but once they’ve got a little bit of a clue as to how they could start that paragraph, it makes it a little bit easier for them.

Bron: Yeah. Awesome. That’s so good. That’s a great idea. And it follows such a logical sequences poster set as well. If you want to take a look at, our website you can have a look at Holly’s blog post, which is Persuasive Writing Examples for Kids for more information because it’s kind of a visual thing to try to describe. But yeah, really, really effective. And I can say that there are examples of the types of paragraphs. So some texts that can be used for modelling for the students of an already written basic persuasive writing piece.

So why is that important for students to be able to look at a formed written persuasive text as an example?

Holly: Oh, well I of course as teachers we know that fully immersing students in,  any text type is a crucial element for them to,sort of understand the purpose of the writing. So each of the, I think there’s a Dogs Make the Best Pets and Homework Should be Banned is two writing examples, that can be stuck up beside each of the cute little, um, character posters as well. And it’s also colour coded. That’s another thing that I made sure. So that the I for the introduction poster, the two text examples for the introduction,  they’re all green. Then the arguments are all orange posters and the conclusions are all blue because I found colour coding, especially in the early years, really helped the children to just make it easier for them to understand.

And yeah, just displaying the examples of the persuasive writing is a crucial element as you’re explicitly showing the students what’s expected of them, the language features that they need to include in their writing. And that’s obviously where those two persuasive writing examples come in to play. Also in the writing examples,  don’t be afraid to write all over it. I used to get out the highlighters as I was talking to the students and I would put a bubble around some of the sequencing words that were there or I’d put a line under the high modality words that were in the examples and I’d leave that up there. And I think the students really benefited from that because it was just another way to add value to the display.

Bron: Yeah, that’s really great idea as well. Good tips there. So you mentioned the importance of recognising persuasive structure in written texts already and immersing them in those. And you’ve also written another blog. You’ve written a lot of blogs, you’ve written another one on Teach Starter, about 1o Children’s Books For Teaching Persuasive Writing.

Listeners can go and take a look at your blog post for free on the website. They just click on blog or search for picture books, persuasive writing or something like that. And that’ll pop up.

Take us through a few of your favourite of children’s books that really support teaching persuasive writing in the early years.

Holly: Yeah, sure. Um, so I actually used, um, a lot of these books in the classroom and the kids just love listening to them. A lot of them are books that they could relate to as well. So I think that’s important. When picking any, um, book or persuasive book, and reading it to the children is something that they can relate to. Uh, the first book could, that was one of my favourites was “Daisy Eat Your Peas” by Kes Gray.

Bron: Great.

Holly: Um, of course I know having my own children, it’s something that I say to them a lot or “Eat your vegetables!”. Um, so it’s definitely something that I think a lot of kids can relate to. And there’s a little character called Daisy and she knows that her mum is always going to say, “Eat your peas, eat your peas”. It’s just a cute little story where Daisy’s mum needs to persuade her why she should be eating her peas.

Bron: Yep.

Holly: That’s, that’s the first one. And the kids really loved it. It was, yeah, it was really good and it.. it’s another way that you could open up discussion after the book about, you know, what happens at your house? What do your parents say? What could you say back to them to persuade them why you shouldn’t eat your peas? So it’s just adds that element.

Bron: You would definitely be a favourite amongst those parents, teaching them how to fight back against eating veggies.

Holly: “I just say, I’m just going to teach them persuasive writing.”

That’s probably the best piece they write is why they shouldn’t eat their peas. But, um, second book, which is actually one that my daughter brought home during home learning, um, for their persuasive writing unit is I Wanna Iguana, which is a really popular book.

I know a lot of teachers would probably be familiar with that and it’s about Alex who’s desperate to adopt his friend’s baby Iguana and there’s a cute exchange of notes between Alex and his mum. Um, and they both use persuasive language to support their side of the argument. Um, and I really liked this one because it has right sides of the argument. So really, really cute story. Yeah, look, yeah, it’s real. It’s really cute.

There’s actually another one that goes with that I Wanna New Room. Ah. Um, and it’s got the same character Alex and I’m pretty sure he shares his bedroom with his brother and it’s all about why he should have his own bedroom and it’s a sort of a persuasive piece about Mmm, why he should have his own room cause he’s a little brother’s annoying and disrupts his homework and all that sort of stuff. So that’s another key one. That’s great.

Okay, well what’s next up on the list of books?

Holly: Everyone should go and check the blog out cause I’m not going to go over all 10 but they’re so good. Um, the other one is Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. Um, which is super cute. I’m sure a lot of a lot of teachers would know this one. The readers, are given instructions, don’t let the pigeon drive the bus and then the cheeky little pigeon, it’s very persuasive about why he should be able to drive.

Bron: It’s really easy to do some beautiful supporting visual arts activities with that book because the illustrations are so simple and kids can draw that pigeon so easily. And then, you know, caption him or make some little persuasive speech bubbles for him of their own or whatever. It’s, I love that one. It’s really great.

Holly: Yeah, there’s, and that’s the thing with these books is that there’s so many different directions that you can take it after you’ve read it. Like you’re not just going to read it once, you’re going to use it in so many different elements of your teaching, of persuasive writing, but also art and you know, all, all sorts of subjects. Yeah.

The last one, gosh Bron, I can’t, okay. The last one I’m going to pick is What Pet Should I Get by Dr Seuss. I mean, you can’t, you can’t go wrong with Dr Suess, but it’s a great story book that leads to a discussion with your class about what the characters in the book should get. You know, they’ve got cute, the cute rhymes, catchy phrases, and the story follows Jay and Kay in their attempts to buy a pet. So what, which pet should they get and that sort of where the kids can come into it and talk about what they think.

Bron: I love that. That’s a classic. Absolutely. So I love those great examples. And I know teachers also love to share their ideas too, of the books that they use. So if you are looking for any more books to stock up on your bookshelf during our persuasive unit, check out Holly’s blog where you’ll find heaps more suggestions. So there’s 10 in total on the blog plus other teachers have added in the comments.

So what should we search for on TeachStarter.com Holly to come across that blog?

Holly: So it’s called 10 Children’s Books for Teaching Persuasive Writing. So, but I’m sure like, you know, if you search persuasive writing on the website, you’ll click on the collection and all the blogs and resources that are available there as well.

Bron: Yeah, there’s so much up there, so definitely do check that out. All right, so next steps in the process of teaching persuasive writing, you’ve scaffold with the structure and then you’ve explored persuasive language with your students and looked at models or examples in literature.

Where do you go next with teaching persuasive writing?

Holly: Of course you need to make sure that you’re obviously see how your students are progressing with it. You might have to go over the structure sort of almost every week or every lesson a little bit. It’s just important to revise it again and again. But we’ve got a few really great lower years resources that might help with the next steps.

So there’s um, Persuasive Topic Cards for the lower years, which are perfect for persuasive teaching. Um, it’s a great resource to have on hand. And I even know my daughter used these in her class this week and they basically love it was quite cute. The activity they did, they partnered up and then they were given one of the topic cards and then they had to, with their partner, they had to pick a side. Um, and then they had to do a bit a bit debate with their partner.

So it’s just immersing. So children in persuasive coming up with persuasive arguments, um, is another great activity to do. Yeah, it’s practice, it’s going over the structure. It’s going over the language devices again and again and again. You can’t sort of just teach the structure and then be like, okay, let’s go into the next thing. Um, it’s just really important to revise everything that you’re teaching. Obviously we know that it’s teachers, especially in the early years. Yep. Um, what else have we got? I, so we do have a blog about the persuasive topic cards and 10 ways you can use them in the classroom. So there’s so many fantastic things you can do just with that one resource.

Bron: So that’s another thing that listeners can look for. I love those because sometimes as a teacher you find it really hard coming up with fresh topic ideas to ask the kids that are relevant to them as well because like, you know, we can pick it as many as we want, but the things that are going to produce the most amazing responses from students and passionate persuasive is when they get really riled up about something. And those ones are all really easy to relate for lower years kids. So yeah, it’s a really great resource to have.

Holly: They’re really great. And I just remembered one activity, I think it’s in the blog, but it’s called Persuasive Tug of War. And what the teacher does is picks one of the persuasive topic cards, puts it on the white board, and then you split your class into two teams of for and against and then you give them each a Post It note and they have to write an argument for their team and stick it on the white board. So the “For” team would put one argument up and that person would go to the back of the line and then the next against team would then put their argument for against and put that up on the white board. It’s sort of like a tug of war between the arguments with how many they can come up with with the Post It notes, which is really fun.

Bron: Yeah, engage them. I love that. Great activity game for persuasive. Super cool. Well, and I know we also had our Persuasive Bump It Up Wall for monitoring and assessing and giving feedback to your students about how they’re going, which is really cool as well so that there’s a whole blog and resource for that as well. But yeah, definitely do check out all of our persuasive teaching resources and ideas.

As Holly mentioned before, we have a huge resource collection for teaching persuasive writing. All my, one of my favourite things was the Modality Word Wall, with high, medium and low modality words. Absolutely love that. I could play like snap or um, you know, hiding words or you know, there’s so many different ways you can use that beautiful, colourful resource too.

And as you said, Holly, everything’s designed by professional graphic designers. So I mean, teachers are pretty great at being multi-skilled, but we’re not all graphic designers, so it’s very cool to have access to being able to just hit download and grab something that’s been professionally made.

Holly: So super cool. And the colours on that Persuasive Word Wall. I think the one you’re talking about it’s got, like the highlighters, it’s got like pinks and it’s actually, it’s so beautiful and it would just, I’ve seen a few photos a bit in the classrooms and it just is so visually appealing to the kids, so Oh, definitely.

Bron: Colour is everything for those little kids, isn’t it?

Holly: Yeah.

Bron: Thank you so much for joining me to talk all about persuasive writing in the early years, Holly, it’s been great to have you back on the podcast.

Holly: No worries. Thanks for having me!

Bron: And Holly is a literacy in the early years queen. If you want to go back and listen to her last episode, it was all about guided reading in the early years. You were able to find that in season one, so go and take a listen to that one as well. Have an amazing day guys and have a great day, Holly. Thanks. Bye. Bye.


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