The Sentence Maker

I blogged earlier this week about our pumpkin writing. I thought I'd show you a little activity you can use to extend on those ideas in your classroom and incorporate into your early writing routines. 

Use our sentence maker to learn to write

The Sentence Maker can become a central mini focus of your week and you can use it to incorporate teaching early reading and writing strategies and specific content like sight words, punctuation and letter sounds.

I have an early blog post that also describes a Sentence Maker - it's simply a piece of timber with some grooves cut down in the top. I couldn't find anything to buy so I had my dad make it for me - it cost about $2.50. 

 Use it for your beginning guided and modelled writing lessons. Model with whole words rather than sounds - although you can begin to incorporate phonics work as time goes on.

Create a sentence (cut up a sentence you have written on a sentence strip) on the stick each week for your class to work on. Have it displayed throughout the week so you can reference it and create short mini lessons whenever you have a moment. The kids will also love to come out and 'play teacher' and this will further assist their development.

 As the year progresses your collection of cards will grow as you make new sentences - keep the cards you create in a alphabetised index box to use again and again.

You can use a set of prepared word cards if you would prefer - however to model the writing process in a more natural way - use hand written cards that you prepare in front of the students. Keep the typed cards for when you are modelling how to access prepared text - i.e. purely reading skills.

In your little mini lesson you can model things like:
  • left to write progression
  • spaces between words
  • words vs letters
  • sentences being a collection of words that are separate
  • starting star (to mark left to right reading)
  • punctuation
  • word order

A great idea is to have it mixed up on certain days -get a student to come out the front and put it in the correct order. Model how reading needs to make sense and we monitor what we read.

Once you repeat this lesson structure a few times you can use it as a staple in your routine and you will naturally start to be innovative and create your own little mini lessons that fit perfectly with your students' needs.

You might get a student to write their own story as a model for the class - cut it up, pop it into the sentence maker and work with it together. 

As you look at punctuation in more depth you can cut those off to become separate cards and talk about how they influence the words. Swapping a period for a question mark for example can be quite significant learning for students. 

As your week progresses, you can start to introduce new words and demonstrate how we can make a new sentence simply by replacing the word and keeping the same basic sentence structure.

Here is one we did today, replacing one word at a time:

We arrived at a totally new sentence - The spider is black.

Have a stack of sentence strips or cards that you can easily cut up, at your fingertips so that you can make new sentences quickly and show students how easy it is to become a writer!

Where are we headed next? I think in a few days time I will switch the word out and show Sam how we can make 'Is the pumpkin orange?' - which will enable me to talk about capital letters and the question mark.

My Sentence Maker worksheets will support this hands-on work in your classroom and can be found over in my TpT store.

And the spider Sam created after we wrote our final sentence is from this packet:

Thanks for stopping by friends, have a wonderful weekend! 

- Mel x