Improving Writing Skills at the Sentence Level

Improving Writing Skills at the Sentence Level

Getting kids to improve their own compositions can be difficult, maybe because they sometimes don’t know where to start.  If your kids could use some review of writing interesting sentences or revising at the sentence level, here are a few ideas.

How about working with one part of speech at a time.  Give students sentences that are complete except for the verb, or subject, or a modifier.  Brainstorm with the class to discover a number of possibilities that could fit into the blanks.  Then have students try on their own, encouraging them to choose the best word they can think of, not the first one that comes to mind.

Or give kids a selection of words including nouns, verbs, modifiers, and maybe prepositional phrases.  They could cut out the individual words and use them to construct sentences, like with refrigerator magnets, adding their own articles and other little words to complete each sentence.

Another activity I like is to give kids a selection of pictures and have them write sentences about each.  For each one specify parts of speech that they must include.  For example, maybe their sentence for one picture should include a noun, a verb, a prepositional phrase and a conjunction.

To get kids writing more complex sentences that they are not used to using in their own writing, give them one sample sentence, have them identify every part of speech in the sentence, and then have them match the pattern with a sentence of their own.

The ideas above are some of the ones I included in my Sentence Construction Activity Sheet Set.  Note: These activity sheets are now part of my Writing and Revising Sentences Package. You can check out a preview here:


Students can also work on revising their writing by making just one specific change to a short passage, either their own or one that you give them.  For example, provide a paragraph that is made up of short choppy sentences, and instruct students to revise by using coordinating conjunctions to make several compound sentences.  Or for a more advanced lesson, have them use subordinating conjunctions to create complex sentences.

Kids can be given a selection of prepositions and directed to revise sentences by adding prepositional phrases using one of the prepositions provided.

I also like to give the kids a short paragraph with instructions to revise by working with the modifiers – adjectives, adverbs, or phrases – either by adding interesting ones or replacing a few common ones that I’ve already included in the passage.

Having kids look at the word choices in mentor passages might spark some revising ideas too.  For narrative writing, classic folk tales are readily available online , and for informational text, a passage from a science or history article might work well.

I also like to use picture activities for revising.  Just provide pictures with simple captions already included and have students improve the captions by adding specific parts of speech.

The ideas above are from my Sentence Renovation Worksheet Set, which is also now part of my Writing and Revising Sentences  Package.  You can preview it here:

Twelve Activities

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