ScholarSkills Sentence Starters© is an easy, effective, and exciting way to teach grammar, sentence creation, and sentence expansion through student-generated responses. The goal is to help your students improve their reading comprehension and writing skills by teaching them more effective ways to create, expand, and analyze sentences.
Common Core Standards: Language Standards K-5 (L.1)
ScholarSkills Sentence Starter© color-coded cards (over 200 cards):
(Action, Helping, and Being Verbs, Nouns, Relative Pronouns, Coordinating Conjunctions, Subordinating Conjunctions, Prepositions)
ScholarSkills Question-Creation© color-coded cards
ScholarSkills Question-Creation Chart©
ScholarSkills Sentence Analysis Worksheet© (optional)
Green, yellow, red, and blue colored pencils
Sentence Starters Activity One: Using verbs to generate sentences
Give each student a color-coded verb card. Note that the green and blue boxes on the verb cards correspond with the color-coded question-creation chart and the color-coded question-creation cards.
2. Ask them to make a sentence using any form of the verb listed on the front of the card. Let them know that they can use the word "I" only once in the sentences that they will be creating during this exercise. This will require them to be more creative with their subjects.
3. Now ask them to find the subject of their sentence by placing a green "who or what?" question-creation card in front of the verb card. This will create the question: "Who or what verb?" Tell them to substitute the actual verb for the word "verb." The answer to this question will always be the subject of the sentence. Each sentence should have an answer to the green subject-question: "who or what verb?" When they find the answer to the subject-question, let them highlight or underline it in green.
4. Next, ask students to expand their sentences by asking and answering blue (adverb) questions. Tell them to create these questions by placing any of their blue question-creation cards after the verb card. (Students can also check to see if their unique sentence already has answers to any of the blue questions.) Have your students use a blue highlighter to highlight answers to any of the blue questions. Any word or group of words that answers any of these questions is an adverb and should be highlighted in blue.
Next, ask them to find any nouns (persons, places, things, or ideas) and place one of the red question-creation cards in front of those nouns to create adjectives by asking and answering adjective questions.
5. Students should compare their original sentence with the expanded version. This will enable them to see how asking and answering adjective and adverb questions can create more interesting and informative sentences.
6. Finally, ask students to notice and record the pattern of the sentence they've created. For example, a student that created: "Mary drank the soup." would then record the sentence pattern as Subject--verb--object and as green--yellow--green.
Sentence Starters Activity Two:
Using noun and verb cards to generate simple sentences
Instructors can use these cards to help students to practice simple sentence making with noun and/or verb cards. For example, students can practice making sentences with each form of the verb on the cards. You can also tell your students to create a "sentence story" about any of the noun cards. Say to them: "Tell me a story about television."
Sentence Starters Activity Three:
Using noun and verb cards to generate complex sentences
Instructors can use these cards to challenge students to create sentences with a noun and a verb card, or with two nouns and a verb card, or any such combination. To add more excitement, have the students select these cards randomly. This type of sentence making requires a great deal of creativity, but it also can be a lot of fun. You can award students points for generating very creative sentences. You can also test their ability to analyze sentences by asking them to check to see if they have any adverbs or adjectives in their sentences. If they don't, they can use the red adjective questions and the blue adverb questions to expand their sentences to get more points. You can award two extra points for each adjective or adverb they add to their sentences.
Sentence Starters Activity Four:
Using relative pronouns, conjunctions, and preposition cards to generate more complex sentences
Instructors can use these cards to help students to create an infinite number of compound and complex sentences.
As always feel free to use these cards in as many creative ways that you can imagine. Add your own verbs and nouns. Please also feel free to contact me personally by calling (718) 258-4647 or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will gladly answer any question and provide as much support as you need to make this work for you and your students.