Tips for Teaching Sentence Structure

Working on sentences can be hard. There is a fine discrimination between what makes a complete sentence and what doesn’t. We need appropriate punctuation, grammar, etc.  When we are targeting this concept, the skill level of our students can be pretty varied. Some kids may write pages and pages and pages without one period or cohesive thought. Other kids may struggle to get one or two words down about a specific topic. Today I am going to run through a bunch of my favorite activities and strategies for targeting writing a complete sentence.

Draw a Picture Checklist

We talked earlier this week about how writing can become some aversive for some of our kids. I like to sometimes try taking the writing out of it. We start this activity by drawing a picture. But first we make a list of everything we need to add to the picture (aka supporting detail). Make a checklist of everything the picture should have. Once the picture is complete, create sentences about the picture. There is immediately a ton of content to work with because the picture is super detailed!

Sentence Scrambles & Sorts

These are some oldies but goodies that I have been using for years and loving. I love that this gives an interactive and hands-on component to creating sentences. These can be used in so many ways. I love these as an independent work activity. After students complete the sort or scramble, they copy down the answers on a piece of paper (then you can check it later!). These are also great for group work, paraprofessional run stations, or guided practice. Check out these sorts here.

Sentence Fill Ins

Similarly, I like to have students work on completing sentences with the correct word. This sneaks in a little uber important comprehension and vocabulary work while giving kids exposure to correct sentence structure. The practice of seeing the correct noun/verb agreement, grammar, and layout of a sentence is key in having students model that format later when writing their own sentences. Some of these sorts are from my Parts of Speech Literacy Centers. 


When you get into the nitty gritty of writing sentences, — USE A RUBRIC. Yes, all caps was necessary. A rubric is essential because how the heck are you going to take data on a sentence. Can you use a simple plus or minus? What if one student wrote a completely perfect sentence but forgot the period and another student wrote 35 words in a row that made no sense and had no verb? Technically those would both be incorrect. But a simple minus on a data sheet isn’t giving us much information. It’s not telling us where to focus our instruction. Writing a sentence includes many different components. A rubric will allow you to track all of those components. Okay, soapbox speech over 😉


  1. Need help. Not a Special Ed teach by choice.

  2. poor kids. hope the parents know–thanks for trying to teach them

  3. Hi,
    Tips are very useful for the one who want to learn to teach students with ease, also the parents can help their kids to learn with this simple and interesting method so the tips are really great. I would like to appreciate your contribution to teach the tips. Thanks a lot for sharing.


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