Students need to know the correct way to structure a sentence in order for their writing to make sense. Knowing the different parts of a sentence, the order of words and the correct usage of grammar in a sentence will all improve your students' writing and will ensure that their writing is understood by others. Make learning sentence structure and grammar more interesting by including fun activities in your teaching.
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Introduce the idea of sentence structure through the use of sentence pyramids. Write a very simple three or four word sentence on the white board. Name the different parts of the sentence; if you do this every time you write a sentence your students will soon become familiar with the correct terms. Ask your students to think of a word they could add to the sentence. Have them explain where the new word should go and why. Write this new sentence under the original one. Tell the class the name of the new word; noun, adjective or adverb for example. Continue adding words to your sentence to build a pyramid shape. Compare the first sentence with the final sentence. As an extension, students could write simple sentences for a partner to expand. Have them label their new sentences with the correct name for each part of the sentence. This activity can be differentiated according to the age and ability of your students. For students in first and second grade, work on knowing terms such as noun, verb and adjective. For third and fourth graders, introduce pronouns and adverbs. More able or older students can learn more complex terms like preposition, determiner and conjunction.
Explain the different parts of a sentence to the class using the proper term for each part. Write lists of words for each part of a sentence on the board; have a list of nouns, a list of adjectives, subjects, objects, and adverbs. Have your class contribute to the list making sure you have lots of interesting words. Students then make the silliest sentence they can from the lists of words written on the board. They must make sure that the sentences make grammatical sense. Have them share their silly sentences with the rest of the class. Differentiate by using more complex parts of a sentence for older and more able students.
Children's sentences, particularly in first and second grade, often comprise of three parts: subject, verb, object. Show students some alternative ways of starting a sentence to make writing much more interesting. Have them make a list of adverbs to start a sentence. Model a sentence starting with a word ending in "ed" or "ing" and have students make their own. Encourage older students to think of sentences that start with a simile. Once they have the idea, get them to go through a story they have written previously and choose a number of subject, verb, object sentences. Have them rewrite the sentences using one of the above starters. Let them share their new sentences with the class so that everyone can learn how the sentences have been improved.
Make a display in your classroom by making several pockets out of construction paper and attaching them to the wall. Each pocket will hold different types of word, so you need to make sure you have a pocket for each part of a sentence. For first and second grade stick to the basic parts of a sentence; for older students gradually include more complex terms. Write individual words on card and laminate them. Put these cards in the pockets. Every day, choose someone to make a simple sentence on the class wall by attaching the laminated word cards to the wall with poster putty. Challenge your class to try to improve the word during the day by adding words in the correct place in the sentence. At the end of the day, read out the new sentence, naming each part.
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