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Elaboration and Transition Words


How do I elaborate on my reasons?

My 7th grade students have great difficulty coming up with details to support their reasons. There are several strategies that can be used to conquer the detail road block:

Ask yourself, "why?"

Let's say I am writing a paper on my favorite holiday. I choose Christmas as my holiday and write down my reasons. Reason #1 is it is a time of fun tradition for my family. If I start writing my paper and see I am having problems elaborating on this reason, I ask myself, "Why is it a time of tradition for my family?"

  • It is a time of tradition because we always go over to my grandma's house on Christmas Eve.

  • My whole family goes.

  • We have done this on Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember.

  • On Christmas morning, my mother always cooks us our traditional Christmas breakfast - blueberry pancakes and sausage.

  • On Christmas Eve, my father always takes my sister and I shopping for my mom's gift.

I have come up with all these details asking myself on simple little question - why?

Make a Who? What? Where? When? How? chart

This  is another useful way to generate detail to elaborate on your reasons. On the back of my planning sheet, I would write my reason with who, what, where, when, and how underneath it.


Reason #2 Christmas is my favorite holiday because I have no school, which means I have free time to enjoy.

Who? - Who do I spend my free time with? I spend my free time during Christmas break with my friends.

What? - What do I do with my friends over Christmas break? Over Christmas break my friends and I go to the mall shopping for our families. Sometimes we go to movies. After Christmas, I usually go over to my friends house to see her presents, or she will come over to my house.

Where? - Where do I go over Christmas break? I go lots of places. I go to my friends house, to my relatives houses that live in other towns, and I go shopping at the mall.

From here I am ready to move on to the next tool for generating details - elaboration starters.

Elaboration Starters:

Elaboration starters are special transition words you can use to introduce details within your paragraph. They are very useful because they can get your mind working in a very specific manner because they call upon you to remember specific examples, events, and emotions. Elaboration starters will most likely be used in the body of your paper (your reasons paragraphs - 2-3 or 4).

  • I remember the time...

  • My favorite time...

  • The best time....

  • For example...

  • One time...

  • Specifically...

  • Especially...

  • In particular...

  • Basically...

  • In other words...

  • Consequently...


  • I remember the time my father and I went out to find a special watch for my mother's Christmas present.

  • The best time I ever had eating Christmas Eve dinner at Grandma's house was the year we made a gingerbread house.

  • For example, my dad would take us shopping at the mall and then we would stop for lunch at McDonalds.

  • One time, my cousin and I ate so many Christmas cookies at Grandma's, I thought we were going to explode!

  • Specifically, I enjoyed the times when just my father and I would have a chance to go shopping.

  • I loved eating Christmas Eve dinner at Grandma's, especially when we would open our presents!

  • Eating Christmas Eve dinner at Grandma's has always been a tradition in our family I have loved, in particular, helping Grandma decorate Christmas cookies.

  • Basically, Christmas Eve dinner at Grandma's was like one big family reunion because everyone went.

  • In other words, shopping with my dad was more than a Christmas tradition to me

Transition Words:

Transition words are key in both the clarification and point of view modes of writing. Transition words aid in giving your essay a sense of movement and progression. Transition words are primarily used to introduce your first reason, your second reason, your third reason, and your conclusion. These very important layout out the strategy of your essay and make your thoughts logical and coherent to your reader.


To begin with, Christmas has always been a time of tradition for my family.

Furthermore, I enjoy Christmas because I get to have free time away from school.

Last but not least, Christmas is my favorite holiday because I get lots of presents!

To summarize, Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday!

For a complete list of transition words, click the here.