The next step in building independent writers is learning how to build a sentence in Kindergarten. My favorite way to teach and practice this is by using a sentence building activity with a pocket chart. It's a hands-on approach to learning how to build a sentence, because it does not involve students actually writing, yet. Students will pick the different word cards or picture cards to create a sentence using the pocket chart. Once students are able to formulate a complete thought or say a sentence out loud, you can try this sentence building activity with them.
Sentence Building Activities
So, why should you use a sentence building activity to help students learn how to build a sentence? There are so many benefits for having students use sentence building activities. They help students learn sentence structure. For example, a sentence must always have a noun (subject) and verb. When students are putting together a sentence, it's helpful for them to see different subjects and then what their subject does, like “The dog ran to the pond.”
Students are also able to move around the words easier than trying to erase. When first learning how to make sentences, students are bound to make some mistakes. Nothing is more frustrating than having to erase part of a sentence to fix it because they mixed up two words. With sentence building activities, they can easily move the cards around themselves.
Using a sentence building activity as a whole group lesson
When first starting to teach how to build a sentence, I made sure to do this activity a lot during our writing whole group lesson. It was helpful for students to see the teacher modeling each step to building a sentence, from saying it out loud, to re reading it to make sure it makes sense.
The first few lessons consisted of mainly picking a subject (a picture card) and trying to think of a sentence to go with it. After a few times, I would add in students getting to write the sentence that we created. Later, it would become one of our go-to writing center activities. You can see it in action on my YouTube channel here: Sentence Building Pocket Chart Activity.
Create a sentence building activity
You can create your own sentence building activity using sentence strips, a permanent marker, and cutting out some pictures you find online. I used these ones that I created for a few years, until I ended up making nicer ones using my computer and PowerPoint.
If you don't want to make your own, I've create seasonal and holiday themed sets here. These are great to switch out every month or so to keep things a little more exciting and change it up a bit.
Setting up your pocket chart
One of my biggest tips is to use a pocket chart when doing this activity. It helps keep everything categorized and in place so students can easily create a sentence. If the words and pictures are all mixed up, it will take the students forever to find that word they were thinking of. Here's how I separate my words and pictures:
If your students are ready to learn how to build a sentence in Kindergarten, make sure to check out the full Holiday and Seasons Sentence Building Activity bundle here!
And that's how I teach how to build a sentence in Kindergarten. Next week, I'll be sharing an easy, no-prep independent writing activity that your students will love! Stay tuned.