Sentence Building

This is especially for the lower levels, but upper levels can benefit from this as well. With ESL, making sentences can be difficult especially if students don’t understand what each part of a sentence is and why. Here are some sentence building activities and strategies to try. Practice makes perfect!

  1. Stretch a Sentence – please click on link. This is a good way for students to create longer sentences and understand the ordering of a sentence.
  2. Categories (subject) – there are many ways to create categories, but for a simple example, students can focus on subject. Subject means who is the sentence about? Who is doing the action? Brainstorm different kinds of subjects. Subjects CAN be non-living things or places! But to start out easy, maybe just write about people and things. You can mind map subjects. Have students find subjects in sentences in their reading, creating them, in their gallery book, etc. They can highlight or make a shape to represent subject.
  3. Categories (verb) – going off of subject, the same can apply for verbs. Have students brainstorm what verbs are. You could also include a mini lesson on tenses if there is time. Again, students can highlight or draw shapes when finding verbs. Explain that verbs can also be internal, not always physically outward. ex: felt, heard, love, think, etc.
  4. Categories (object) – object can be very tricky as sometimes, object is an object phrase. More information about its role here.
  5. Order of Adjectives – this can be a fun activity for students as this can make for a veryyyyy looongggg sentence! In English, we use adjectives in a specific order, otherwise it doesn’t sound right. The order usually follows: Quantity or number, Quality or opinion, Size, Age, Shape, Color, Proper adjective (often nationality, other place of origin, or material), Purpose or qualifier as described on this website. example: There were five, ugly, large, 1-month-old, square, brown, German, cardboard, art boxes. Have students describe something very simple but by using as many of these adjectives in order. Students can then draw a picture of that object. Some worksheets to get you started can be found here.
  6. Unscrambling – unscrambling sentences forces students to really understand the meaning of words and the order of a sentence. You can definitely create your own in class or there are several worksheets (some fill in the blank) that can be writing or even cut out and glue. Site 1. Site 2.
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Stretch a Sentence

Stretch a Sentence

Stretch a sentence is as great way to expand on those very boring, simple sentences that need more details. Great for Level 1 and Level 2-1 especially (could be used for upper levels as well).

First, start out with a subject: The girl

Doing what? The girl ran

When? The girl ran this morning

Where? The girl ran this morning at the gym

Why? The girl ran this morning at the gym because she woke up early.

Feel free to modify and edit in any way necessary for your class. Some ideas to get started for subject, verb, and where could include…

Who: The girl, boy, mom, cat, grandma, superhero, fish, child, umpire, swimmer, etc.

Doing what: running, kicking, laughing, smelling, falling, listening, watching, etc.

Where: at the beach, office, park, swimming pool, garden, concert, bank, post office, etc.

Feel free to print the PDF for your classroom.