K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • add prepositional phrases and clauses to a simple sentence.
  • correctly use commas to punctuate the complex sentences they create.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 hour

Materials/resources

  • Overhead transparency of sample story, “A Day at the Park” (pdf | rtf)
  • Sentence strips

Technology resources

Overhead projector or some other projection device

Activities

Modeling/Mini-lesson

  1. Put transparency of sample story on the overhead. Read the sample story to students.
  2. Ask the students to react to the story. How did it sound? What did you notice about it?
  3. Explain to the students that many times, weak stories are full of very short, choppy sentences. One way writers can make these stories stronger is to learn how to compose more elaborated sentences.

Elaborated Sentences

  1. Print a skeletal sentence on a sentence strip. Ask students to suggest prepositional phrases and clauses that could be added by answering the questions where, when, how, and why? Record the phrases on sentence strips. For example: “The boy/ saw a bug.”
    • Where did he see the bug? crawling out/from under his bed
    • When did he see the bug? last night
    • How did he see the bug? (Or how did the bug crawl out?) waking from a bad dream
    • Why did he see the bug? hearing a skittering sound
    • (Or, Why did the bug crawl out?) to eat the cookie crumbs on the floor

    Last night,/ waking from a bad dream,/ the boy,/ hearing a skittering sound,/saw a bug /crawling out /from under his bed/ to eat the cookie crumbs on the floor.

  2. Experiment with sentence order by rearranging the sentence strips. Have students decide which order makes the clearest sentence. Encourage variety in sentence patterns.

Guided Practice

  1. In pairs or small groups, give each team of students 7 sentence strips. Have them write a subject on one strip and a predicate on a second strip. Ask student to expand their short sentence by adding prepositional phrases and clauses that answer the questions where, when, how, and why? Write the clauses on their remaining sentence strips. Rearrange the clauses within the sentence and add commas where needed.

Independent Practice

  1. Ask the students to expand a short sentence in one of their writing pieces by adding prepositional phrases and clauses. Have students share their elaborated sentences with partners.

Assessment

Can students:

  • add prepositional phrases and clauses to simple sentences?
  • correctly use commas to punctuate the complex sentences they create?

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Language

        • Grade 3
          • 3.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking. 3.L.1.1 Explain the function of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in general and their functions in particular sentences. 3.L.1.2 Form...
        • Writing

          • 3.W.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
        • Grade 4
          • 4.W.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
        • Grade 5
          • 5.W.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 3

  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.08: Focus reflection and revision (with assistance) on target elements by:
      • clarifying ideas.
      • adding descriptive words and phrases.
      • sequencing events and ideas.
      • combining short, related sentences.
      • strengthening word choice.

Grade 4

  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.08: Focus revision on a specific element such as:
      • word choice.
      • sequence of events and ideas.
      • transitional words.
      • sentence patterns.
  • Goal 5: The learner will apply grammar and language conventions to communicate effectively.
    • Objective 5.03: Elaborate information and ideas in writing and speaking by using:
      • simple and compound sentences.
      • regular and irregular verbs.
      • adverbs.
      • prepositions.
      • coordinating conjunctions.