Writing Opinion Essays Third Grade

This opinion writing unit of study is geared towards primary classrooms. This includes mini-lessons, anchor charts, blank books and more.

This opinion writing unit of study has been updated from our original resources that were published a few years ago.  It includes many of the same resources, but with some additional items as well.   This unit is intended for use in a writer’s workshop format where mini-lessons, independent writing time and conferencing occurs each and every day.  That said, some students may want to attempt opinion writing before you have moved through all the lessons.  It is important to know that it is completely okay for students to do this!  As your instruction builds on previous lessons and continues, students may choose to rewrite or revise pieces that they began at the beginning of the unit and you will have the opportunity to use that writing for discussions in your conferences with students.   These are great instructional and learning moments for students, so be sure not to discourage your students from trying out some opinion writing before they know all there is to know about it.

You can download the complete, free unit by clicking on the bold green download below the lesson descriptions.

Lesson 1: Immersion – Tell your students that they will be learning how to write their opinions.  Ask them to share if they know/understand what the word “opinion” means.  After a brief discussion, spend some time immersing your students in texts that deliver opinions and let them develop their own “noticings” about the texts.  We have provided a list of mentor texts for opinion writing that might help.  You could choose to read aloud one or two of the texts and fill out the “Our Noticings” graphic organizer together as a class or you might want to divide your class into small groups and give each group a text and a graphic organizer to fill out together.  Then you could gather your students and record their noticings on the blank anchor chart provided or use the one we have already filled in called “What is an Opinion?” to lead your discussion.

Lesson 2: Fact Vs Opinion – This might be a perfect time to present some instruction on the difference between fact & opinion.  We have  included some exit tickets within the resources provided here in case you want to quickly assess your students’ understanding of fact & opinion – one exit ticket option is more open-ended, but we have also provided two that are guided and specific. If you are interested in a center activity to give your students more practice with fact vs. opinion, you might want to take a look at our Fact & Opinion Sorting Cards.

Lesson 3: Distinguishing Between Opinion and Persuasive Writing(Optional) – For further clarification of opinion writing you might want to present a mini-lesson that clarifies the difference between opinion & persuasive writing. (This may be more geared towards third graders.) We have provided an anchor chart with the following ideas to get a class discussion started and here are some ideas that you can present:

Persuasive Writing –  Picks one side of an argument with a goal of trying to convince others to agree with that argument.  A writer would use evidence such as facts and statistics to persuade readers to understand and agree with their argument.

Opinion Writing – States an opinion and uses examples to show why that opinion is held.  A writer would use background personal experience and logic to help readers understand their opinion, but without necessarily trying to convince others to change their own beliefs.


Lesson 4: An Opinion Needs a Good Reason – We want to helps students understand that their opinions need to be supported with at least one reason why they have them.  At this age many children are likely to simply give the response of “Well…because!” when asked why they think the way they do about something.  We want them to get into the practice of having to provide actual thoughts about why they hold certain opinions.  For this lesson we have a graphic organizer called “An Opinion Needs a Good Reason” that is meant to be modeled and discussed with the entire class.  For each opinion, talk with students about good reasons that someone might use to support each one.  We have also created a follow up activity for student practice.  Cut apart the half sheets called “A Reason for My Opinion” and pass them out to each student.  Give a few minutes for students to think of answers and then gather them into a group.  Have each student read their sentence frame aloud and add their personal thoughts.  Teacher feedback and class discussion is key in helping students to understand what it means to support their opinions with personal experiences and background.

Lesson 5: Providing More Than One Reason for Opinions  – Depending upon the level of your students you may want them to supply more than one reason for each opinion that they have.  In this case we have provided four practice pages on different topics that might help with getting them started.  Each page has an opinion at the top and four boxes below to brainstorm good reasons for that opinion.  We suggest you do one together as a mini-lesson, and then for more practice (if needed) assign the other three to small groups (more than one group can have the same page).  Gather students when they are finished to share & discuss answers.

**As an extension of this lesson we have also provided an additional resource.  For this activity, there is a list of several opinions with matching reasons (two per opinion) that go along with each one.  (The first sheet contains opinions.  The second two pages contain the reasons for those opinions.) Print and cut apart these strips of paper. Hand out the strips in class, and then students work to match each opinion with an appropriate reason.  This can be a way to get students up and moving around while practicing supporting opinions or you could laminate the strips and place them at a center for group or independent practice.

Lesson 6 & 7: Opinion Sentence Starters & Transition Phrases – Giving students appropriate wording to use to begin and continue their opinion writing can be a great way to help those who might struggle with starting a piece or with even with the flow of their writing.  To help  we have created two anchor charts that you can share, discuss and model with your students.  You will want to actually write pieces in front of them so that they will see how to use the anchor charts as a support during their own independent writing.  This is something you will probably need to do again and again in small group instruction and also in one-on-one conferencing.

Lesson 8: Choosing a Topic & Planning Your Writing – Some students have most likely already tried their hand at opinion during the independent writing part of workshop throughout this unit, but now we want to provide them with more specific planning tools to write a published piece.  They may choose a topic that they have already begun to write about or select something new.  We have provided four different planning organizers called “Organizing My Thoughts” that you can model for your students.  You may choose to only model one or two depending on your class.  Once the organizers have been modeled students can begin to select topics for a piece of opinion writing and begin to plan the piece that they will want to publish and share.  You will want to conference with students as they plan and look at their pages to help provide the guidance and support that each student needs.

**Additional Resource: Writing Task Cards – If you want something more guided to assess where and how your students are doing with providing reasons for their opinion writing OR if you want something to use for small group instruction for students who need additional support, you might want to try the writing task card activity.  For this we have provided ten cards with pre-programmed topics (ex: fish vs. dog) that you can use alongside the “Organizing My Thoughts” organizers.  Once a card is chosen, students will need to form an opinion on the topic they have picked and think through good reasons for that opinion to use in their writing.  (These cards might also be helpful to students who are struggling with choosing a topic to write about.)

Lesson 9: Publishing – For younger students, writing on the planners might be what they are capable of at this point and that will be their “published” piece.  If you want your students to take the next step after planning, we have provided some different options for publishing that might work well with their writing.  There is a half sheet blank book, a full sheet blank book and a simple lined paper that can be used for students to transition their writing from the planner to a more “formal” looking published piece.  As always, be sure to model these for your students if they are unfamiliar with the format.  Also, for those that are ready, we have provided an “Opinion Writing Checklist” that they can use to make sure their writing has all that it needs.

Lesson 10: Writing Celebration – As always, finish off your unit with a fun writing celebration.  Invite parents, another class or other special adults from your building to come in and have your students share their writing.  This can be done in small private conversations, but you can also have students who are willing to read their pieces in front of the class.   We have included a “Congrats Author!” certificate you can print to pass our to your students if you wish.  One fun idea you might want to do is to have three different types of snacks available to your students and guests.  On your board (or on posters) put the names of the three different snacks and provide Post-Its to write on.  Before the celebration ends, have each student and guest choose their favorite of the three snacks and write their reason for their opinion on a Post-It to place on the board or poster.  At the end your class can discuss the reasons that were given for the opinions on the snacks.

You can download the complete, free unit here: Opinion Unit of Study for Writing

If you are looking for resources found within the old version of the post, we have left resources that we did not recreate and incorporate into this unit below:

Supporting Your Opinion  – Give students practice with these brainstorming pages.  We suggest you do one together as a mini-lesson, and then for more practice (if needed) have groups work together and then share & discuss answers.

Cats are easy pets.

Science is interesting.

Chocolate is the best dessert.

Rainy days are fun.

Snow days are boring.

McDonalds is better than Wendy’s.

Opinion Writing Practice Prompts – These are very simple practice writing pages that require students to form an opinion regarding their favorite of two given items.It makes them choose one of the items by circling it and then write the reasons why the item is favored.

Fish vs. Dog

Fishing vs. Playing Basketball

Ice Cream Cones vs. Watermelons

Cat vs. Lizard

Skating vs. Reading

Math vs. Science

Ferris Wheel vs. Roller Coaster

McDondald’s vs. Dairy Queen

Pizza vs. Cookies

Video Games vs. Water Balloons

Opinion Writing Prompts – Prompts designed to give your students practice with opinion writing.

The Best PetThe Best SportThe Best SnackThe Best Part of School

Movie, Book or Song Review – One way to get students interested in sharing their opinions is to have them write movie, book or song reviews.  Start  by modeling this in your classroom as a mini-lesson.  Play a popular song – one that the kids may already know.  Next, share the “Rave Reviews” anchor chart to discuss the parts of a well-written review.  Finally, as a class, guide your students through the graphic organizer as you write a review of the song you played for them.

Rave Review Anchor Chart

Writing a Review – Graphic Organizer

We also have a unit on persuasive writing that you will find here:  Persuasive Writing Unit

Filed Under: Blog, Informational Text, Narratives/Storytelling

Phew. That was a mouthful! I didn't think 10 writing prompts would be that long...

One thing you'll notice is that all of the writing prompts provide the students with an authentic situation. These are all plausible things that could happen to a third grade student. As Paulo Freire would suggest, these are authentic. He or she will have a frame of reference to think about the question, and it's framed in terms of a person or group that the student already interacts with - parents, teachers, principals, etc.

All students would benefit from authentic and meaningful writing tasks, but this especially true of younger students who have trouble grappling with abstract concepts. If you need more ideas, you could try looking through this list of persuasive essay topics about school rules and see if you could adapt them for a younger audience.

You'll also want to think about how your students can organize their writing. Essay mapping and outlining is an equally important skill, and as your students get older they will need to be able to organize their thoughts into multiple, discrete paragraphs. An essay map, like this online graphic organizer, may useful in helping them organize different reasons to support their argument.

Good luck, and happy writing to you and your third graders!

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