When teaching beginning writers, it is important to teach them how to write a sentence. I have 4 tips for you when teaching sentences to beginning or struggling writers!
Hearing comes first when teaching sentences
As with all phonics and phonological skills, hearing the sounds and words need to come first when teaching sentences. We want our beginning writers to be able to distinguish where one word starts and one word ends in our verbal stories and sentences. You can practice this by using songs/poems/nursery rhymes and have the children clap for each word they hear to move a block or counter up for each word their hear. Then they can tap on the counter and retell the poem word by word. All of these activities come from my Phonemic Awareness Intervention product!
Letters vs. words vs sentences
One of the very first phonics lessons I do with my beginning writers is the difference between letters, words, and sentences. However, some beginning writers may need continual refreshers throughout the year. Again, this starts with hearing first. Try sounding out different letters, words, sentences and having students say what they heard. Then show them written examples and have them sort them into categories of letters, words, and sentences. Students need to know that letters make up words and words make up sentences. Once they know how sentences are made, they are ready to start reading sentences!
Break apart words
One of my favorite activities for teaching sentences and beginning readers is to have them break apart the sentence word by word and build it back together before reading it. I use these sentence strips to build an organizer for my students to use. Watch the whole lesson here! I want my students to routinely tap to each word in the sentence and see each word as it’s own part in the sentence.
Highlight or Underline words in sentence
After beginning writers are used to reading and building sentences, they are ready to start writing them! Start by having them orally plan out their sentence. Then they should clap out or tap the words they hear to figure out how many words are in their sentence. Once they know how many words they will be writing, they should use a highlighter or pen to draw a line where they will write the word. This is a great chance to reiterate sounds in words because they will want to draw short lines for words with few sounds and long lines for words with many sounds. I like to remind them to “write a little, read a little”. They should write a word and then reread the sentence by tapping the back of their pen/pencil on each highlighted line. When beginning to write sentences, it should routinely come back to hearing the individual words in the sentence.
When our children are beginning writers or struggling with their writing development, help them to first hear the words in the sentence before expecting them to write the words independently. Use these strategies for help teaching sentences and let me know which one you like best!