Students come into kindergarten at all different levels. You will probably have some kids ready to learn about sentences and some not. And, that’s ok. Starting the year out teaching about sentences will benefit all kids. I started teaching about sentences the first week of school. I taught them that a sentence is a group of words that makes a complete thought and has a capital and an end mark. This was done in my morning message and my objectives for each lesson.
Teaching Sentences for Kindergarten with Morning Message
I wrote a message on the board each day before the kids arrived. There were usually about 3-4 sentences in my message. At the beginning of the year, I wrote each sentence in a different color. After reading the message, I asked questions about the sentences, such as: How many sentences are in our message? How many words in the green sentence? As the year went on, the messages got longer and the questions I asked were more challenging.
Teaching Sentences with the Objective
Using objectives for each lesson is a great way to teach about sentences. At the beginning of each lesson, I wrote an objective on the board in kid friendly language. Before writing the objective, I would tell students what it was and then count how many words were in the sentence. Ex. Our objective is I can circle sight words. Let’s count the words. (Then we say the sentence slowly as I hold up a finger to count each word.) There are 5 words in that sentence. Next I drew a line on the board for each word in our objective. I wrote the words on the lines, rereading the sentence every time I added a new word. I always pointed out that sentences begin with capitals and end with end marks.
Sentences During Writing Time
Of course, writing time is the prime time to work on writing sentences for kindergarten. At the beginning of the year, we focused on writing stories about ourselves. For some kids, this looked like drawing a picture about an experience they had and labeling parts of their picture with words. Students that were ready, added a sentence to their picture. For each lesson, I modeled a story of my own by telling them the story, then drawing the picture and adding words. I also added a sentence in the same way I wrote our objective on the board. I told them my sentence, counted how many words were in my sentence, and drew lines for each word. Then I sounded out each word as I wrote on the lines. This guidance really helps students to understand how to write a sentence themselves. During our writing block, I also pulled small groups and helped the students work on coming up with a sentence to match their story and write it. As the year progressed, our stories got longer and the genre changed. We wrote nonfiction texts, fiction stories, and more. By the end of the year, most of my students were writing paragraphs!
Sentences During Reading Time
Reading can be a great time to focus on sentences. During small group reading instruction, we looked at different components of sentences, like capitals, periods, spaces between words… After reading a book, we often did an interactive writing about the book. To learn how to use interactive writing, read our blog, Interactive Writing: Fun and Engaging for Kindergarten.
Specific Lessons for Sentences in Kindergarten
There are many great lessons and activities to teach sentences in kindergarten. Here are a few I liked doing in my classroom.
Interactive writing is such a great way to teach kindergarteners about sentences. This is a teaching technique where the teacher and the student collaborate to compose and write sentences. To learn how to use interactive writing, read our blog, Interactive Writing: Fun and Engaging for Kindergarten.
Count the Words
This fun lesson is quick and can be done anywhere, like waiting in line for picture time. Count the Words is as simple as the teacher saying a sentence and students counting the words. I would tell my students, “I’m going to say a sentence, let’s see how many words are in my sentence. You count the words and hold that many fingers in the air. My sentence is Sam went to the store. How many words?” I would say the sentence slowly and say it twice. Having students hold up their fingers gives everyone a chance to count on their own and keeps this a quiet game. After seeing most students holding up their fingers, I would have them clap and count with me as I said the sentence again to check their answers.
Sentence or Not a Sentence?
Sentence or Not a Sentence? helps students learn that a sentence is a complete thought. The teacher says a few words and students decide if those words make up a sentence or not. I taught it this way: “We’re going to play Sentence or Not a Sentence! I’ll say a few words and you show thumbs up if what I said was a sentence. If it’s not a sentence do thumbs down. Ready? The dog.” Watch for students’ thumbs, then say, “That’s right, that was not a sentence, we don’t know what the dog is doing. How could we make that a sentence?” This game pairs perfectly with our Is This Sentence Correct worksheet.
Dictation Sentences for Kindergarten
Between the middle and end of the school year, I added weekly spelling tests. These were not used as part of their grade, but instead as a way to work on sight words and word families that we were learning. There were 5 words on each quiz and 1 dictated sentence that included a few of the words on the test. After calling out the words on the test, I would tell the students the sentence. We counted the words together. Then they wrote the sentence. For example, if the words were mug, rug, slug, bug, tug; the sentence would be: The slug is in the mug on the rug. This is another good time to remind students that sentences begin with capital letters and end with end marks.
Unscramble Sentences for Kindergarten
Unscrambling sentences can be tricky for students still learning about sentences, so this is something we did towards the end of the year. I demonstrated how to unscramble a sentence a few times, so my kids understood how to do this. Then I gave them 3 or 4 word simple sentences to try on their own. Students loved this activity, but it is important to model this and watch for students who have a hard time figuring this skill out. You can easily create a scrambled sentence on your white board for your students to unscramble. Or check out our Unscramble the Sentence worksheets.
Reading Simple Sentences for Kindergarten
These sight word sentences for kindergarten reinforce one to one correspondence. They are great during small group instruction. The dots under each word aid in pointing, as the student reads.
Fix the Sentence Worksheets
My students loved fixing sentences. I often wrote sentences on the board with a few mistakes and had students help to make the sentence correct. Towards the end of the year, and after doing this activity together on the board, students worked on Fix the Sentence Worksheets.
This sentence checklist is great any time your students are writing sentences. I put a copy of the sentence checklist in my students’ writing folders, and they would take these out after they finished a writing project to check their sentences. The checklists were laminated, so students could add a check mark with a crayon or dry erase marker after making sure their sentences followed the checklist. You’ll also notice the checklist on some of our worksheets as a helpful reminder when working on sentences. A few students pick these things up quickly, but most students need lots of reminders to add an end mark, use spaces…
Sentences for Kindergarten Worksheets
The more opportunities students get with sentences, the more they will understand them and be able to read and write sentences. Sprinkle sentence lessons throughout your day, and watch the students grow and grow! If you are doing any of these activities, or ones that I don’t have here, I’d love to hear about it! Tell me which activities you try and how it worked with your students!