Using a variety of sentence types helps make a student's writing more interesting. Students need to be able to structure a sentence correctly, using the right grammar so their sentences can be understood by readers. Teachers should use plenty of different and engaging activities to help develop sentence-writing skills in their classes.
Other People Are Reading
Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
Write a sentence that contains a subject and a verb on to the board and explain to students the correct terms for these parts of a sentence. Demonstrate using a capital letter to begin the sentence and a period at the end. Explain that the words have to sit inside the sentence. Write a selection of simple sentences on the board. Some of these should be written correctly. Write other sentences with mistakes in them; leave out the capital at the beginning or the period at the end, for example. Read out the sentences. If a sentence is correct, children show a "thumbs up"; if it has a mistake, they show a "thumbs down." Ask students why a sentence is incorrect. Develop this activity by having students work in pairs, writing sentences for their partners, who have to decide if the sentences are correct.
Teach complex sentences with a hands-on activity. Begin by explaining that a complex sentence consists of a main clause and a subordinate clause that are joined together by a connective or conjunction. Have students work with a partner to make a list of connectives. Each pair feeds back its list to the class. Write a selection of main and subordinate clauses on strips of paper. Give a main clause and a subordinate clause to each pair of students at random. Students must decide which of the connectives they have listed can be used to join the clauses together.
What's the Difference?
Students often confuse complex and compound sentences. Compound sentences differ from complex sentences in that they consist of two or main clauses. To help students learn this difference, find examples of complex and compound sentences in a variety of texts. Write these on a whiteboard so that students can see the difference, then have them look through a variety of texts to find their own examples of compound and complex sentences. Write their examples on strips of coloured paper and make a display in the classroom that students can refer to when writing.
Finish It Off
Write up part of a sentence on the whiteboard and ask students to complete it. You can write up the beginning of a sentence, the end of a sentence or even the middle. Extend this activity to provide practice for writing complex and compound sentences. Write a selection of simple sentences and a list of connectives. Students choose a sentence, add a connective and then add another clause to make a complex or compound sentence.
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