How to Teach Sentences to Students

How to Teach Sentences blog post cover

Teaching sentences will be a big part of your language instruction! From simple to complex, sentences are woven into a large part of your language curriculum. Successful understanding of sentence structure and development will improve your students’ reading, writing, and language skills. So, teaching sentences is a great place to start!

Throughout this blog post, I’m going to reference the Common Core State Standards. So first, let’s look at these standards. Then, we can dive into tips! Within the Language domain of these national standards, each grade level builds upon each other to increase knowledge of skills.

  • Kindergarten- L.K.1.f- Produce and expand complete sentences in shared language activities.
  • 1st Grade- L.1.1.j- Produce and expand complete simple and compound declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences in response to prompts.
  • 2nd Grade- L.2.1.f- Produce, expand, and rearrange complete simple and compound sentences,
  • 3rd Grade- L.3.1.i- Produce simple, compound, and complex sentences.
  • 4th Grade- L.4.1.f- Produce complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate fragments and run-ons.

Step 1 for How to Teach Sentences to Students: Types

Type of Sentences anchor chart

One of the first steps in How to Teach Sentences to Students, there will need to be explicit instruction on the four types. Starting in first grade, students should be able to identify the four sentence types. These include declarative, imperative, interrogative, and exclamatory. Starting out, I always recommend starting a topic with an anchor chart. This can be teacher-made, or digital/printable, like the one above! While students are learning about content skills, they can always refer back to the anchor chart to support understanding and correct misconceptions. Then, they’ll become more comfortable with the types of sentences they’re working with.

Activity for students to identify the type of sentence that is used.

Then after explicit instruction, students will need to apply their skills. During this time, partner/group/independent activities are a great supplement to your instruction! In the activity above, students read sentence examples and identify their type. This has students working on a skill and building their experience.


Get Students Familiar with the Difference Between Simple and Compound

Simple and compound sentences anchor chart

After teaching sentence types, you can move into simple and compound sentences. Another skill, another anchor chart! Help students understand the concept of subject and predicate (or verb in younger grades). They will need to know “who” and “what”, who the sentence is about, and what they are doing. Remember to teach students that who doesn’t just mean a person. It is “who” because it is the subject of the sentence.

Compound and simple sentence matching/sorting activity.

Then, as students begin to understand the subject and predicate, you can introduce compound sentences. Use a matching or sorting activity, so that students can read and identify sentences that are already formed. This will allow them to focus on the components of simple and compound sentences before they have to construct them on their own.


Producing Sentences Focus

Kindergarten sentence activity where students build sentences with word cards.

In Kindergarten, students can begin to produce sentences. This activity can include building short sentences with parts or identifying sentences that are complete or incomplete. Using a simple task, like the one above, can help students strengthen their understanding of sentences.

In first and second grades, the activities can increase in difficulty. Activities, similar to the one in the next section, are good for students developing writing skills. Have students produce their own sentences on a topic or idea. Spending adequate time in the sentence production stages of teaching sentences will be essential!


Expanding Sentences Focus

Sentence building activity for third grade students.

In third grade, teaching sentences will dive into another type. In addition to simple and compound sentences, students will be learning about complex sentences. Here, you will want to show students dependent clauses. Try using the sentence “expanding” activity to help students build this skill. They will write a simple sentence about a topic. Then, expand that sentence into a compound an complex sentence.


Rearranging Sentences Focus

Activity for students to rearrange sentences.

Another skill builder in how to teach sentences to students is rearranging sentences. In this case, students will take an already composed sentence. Then, they will rearrange the clauses in order to make the sentence make sense. Rearranging sentences can help students who struggle with sentence structure.


Run-on and Fragment Practice (Advanced)

Run-on and sentence fragment activity for students.

Now, it is time for run-ons and fragments! While teaching run-on sentences, students will be extending their understanding of that original subject and predicate concept. First, they will need to be able to identify when there are clauses present in a sentence that do not belong. On the other hand, if a clause or part of a sentence is missing, they will know it is a fragment. Repeated exposure to fragments and run-ons will help students with this. Activities that have students classifying sentences are great for this!


Free Sentence Activity

shutterfold paper activity for types of sentences (declarative, exclamatory, interrogative, and imperative)

If you’d like a free sentence activity, check out this blog post in the link below! This simple, paper-folding activity can be completed again and again!

Link: Free Paper Folding Activities Blog Post


Suggested Resources to Teach Sentences

If you are looking for ready-to-go resources for teaching sentences, check out these resources in my store. They come complete, with lessons, printables, activities, and assessments!


Thank you for taking the time to read this post! Finally, I  really hope you enjoy using these tips when teaching your kiddos all about sentences!

How to teach sentences

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