K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • combine provided sentences using two kinds of transition words: time transitions and thought (logical) transitions.
  • incorporate time and thought transitions into their own work to help their narratives move along.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 hour


  • Transition Words Sentence Strips with transitional words and phrases and prepared sentences pdf | rtf
  • Pocket Chart



  1. Tell students that there are different kinds of transition words. Explain that one kind of transition word is time transitions, which helps the reader know the order of events in a story.
  2. Discuss how using different transition words changes the meaning of a sentence. Put the following 2 sentence strips in the pocket chart:
  • Dad and I went fishing.
  • Mom made our lunch.

Show students how you can connect the sentences by adding transition words. For example:

  • Dad and I went fishing. / Meanwhile / Mom made our lunch.
  • After / Dad and I went fishing, / Mom made our lunch.
  • Before / Dad and I went fishing, / Mom made our lunch.
  • Dad and I went fishing / after / Mom made our lunch.
  • While / Dad and I went fishing, / Mom made our lunch.

Discuss how the different transition words change the meaning of the sentences by changing the sequence (order) of events.

Guided Practice

  1. Put the following 3 sentence strips up on the pocket chart.
    • Marty saw the puppy.
    • He recognized it.
    • He picked it up.
  2. Give 3 student volunteers three cards with 3 transition words on them (First, Then, After that). Tell students that the transition words on the cards will help them put the sentences in the correct order:
    First, Marty saw the puppy. Then he recognized it. After that, he picked it up.
  3. Give students other transition words on cards and ask them how the words change the meaning of the sentences:
    After Marty saw the puppy, he recognized it, and he picked it up.
    As soon as Marty saw the puppy, he recognized it and immediately picked it up.
  4. Time Transitions

    Shortly after that



    Along the way

    Before long


    After all of that

    Later on


    An hour later

    Without delay


    At that very moment

    At last


    Later that same day

    During all of this

    As soon as

    Not a moment too soon

    While this was happening

  5. Point out that other transition words link related thoughts on a subject. Use the following 3 sentence strips:
  • The puppy shivered.
  • It was afraid.
  • Marty spoke in a gentle voice.

Have students select transition strips to make the sentence come to life. For example:

  • The puppy shivered / because obviously / it was afraid / even though / Marty spoke in a gentle voice.
  • Although / Marty spoke in a gentle voice, / the puppy shivered / because / it was afraid.
  • Without warning / the puppy shivered, / even though / Marty spoke in a gentle voice. / Obviously, / it was afraid.

Thought Transitions



For example




Without warning

Even though


Which, if I must say so myself

Independent Practice

  1. Have students select a draft from their writing folder. Have them highlight the transition words they used. Then have them choose a paragraph to revise by adding 3-5 transition words. Have students read their revised paragraphs to a partner.


  • Can students make a list of time transition words and thought transition words?
  • Can students select the appropriate time transition words to link three sentences?
  • Can students select the appropriate thought transition words to link three sentences?
  • Can students identify time and thought transition words in their own writing?
  • Can students revise their own writing to link related sentences with the appropriate transition words?

Supplemental information

  • Writing Feature: Organization
  • Writing Process Stage: Revising
  • Writing Environment: Expressive, Informational, Critical, Argumentative, Literary
  • Writing Genre: Personal Narrative

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Writing

        • Grade 4
          • 4.W.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
        • Grade 5
          • 5.W.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 4

  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.08: Focus revision on a specific element such as:
      • word choice.
      • sequence of events and ideas.
      • transitional words.
      • sentence patterns.

Grade 5

  • Goal 5: The learner will apply grammar and language conventions to communicate effectively.
    • Objective 5.03: Elaborate information and ideas in speaking and writing by using:
      • prepositional phrases.
      • transitions.
      • coordinating and/or subordinating conjunctions.