4 Tips to Get Students Writing in Complete Sentences

Full sentences are the foundation of good writing. In this post, I’m sharing tips for teaching students to write in complete sentences and then details about literacy center activities that help kindergarten, first, and second grade students learn to write complete sentences.

Writing is a core skill we use all throughout our life. The ability to write in full sentences is the foundation of writing.  As adults we don’t think much about sentence structure, ending punctuation, capital letters, etc. – but that’s not the case for our young students.  It’s all new to them! They need direct instruction on how to write in complete sentences and lots of time to practice doing it.  

So today I am excited to share 4 simple steps for teaching students to write in complete sentences and a variety of literacy center activities that will give students the practice they need to master this valuable skill.  

Steps for Teaching Students to Write in Complete Sentences

1. Directly Teach! 

For students to become good writers, the skills must be taught systematically and explicitly.  Teach them that complete sentences can be short or long, but they must have two basic parts, a subject and a predicate. The subject tells WHO or WHAT the sentence is about. The predicate is the ACTION part of the sentence.  It tells what the subject is doing. 

Also teach students that sentences must begin with a capital letter and end with a punctuation mark.  Explain that statements that tell us something end in a period (.).  Those that ask a question end with a question mark (?) and those that express strong emotion/surprise always end with an exclamation mark (!).  

2. Model, Model, Model

Never underestimate the importance of modeling!  It’s the most powerful tool in your toolbox!  There are a lot of different ways you can model writing full sentences.  

💗 Elicit the subject and predicate from your students and then model how you turn those two things into a complete sentence.

💗 Use think alouds to let students hear what you think about when you write a complete sentence.  For example, “I start with a capital letter….include a subject….space my words out…. include an action word….end with the proper punctuation.”

💗 Model how you reread the sentences aloud to catch and correct silly mistakes. 

💗Show your student how you use a checklist to ensure your sentences have everything they need!  

3. Use Anchor Charts  

Create a place for students to reference the information you have taught.  You can create an anchor chart and display it in your writing center or use mini anchor charts that students can glue into their writing notebook or folder.  Whatever you do, make sure you first teach your students how to use the charts and then consistently remind them to refer back to them.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice! 

In order to master writing in full sentences students need plenty of opportunities for practice and review.  Find literacy center activities that give students practice building and writing full sentences. This assures they get regular, repeated practice. 

Once you’ve chosen a center activity, start by introducing it to the whole class.  Clearly model how to complete the task and then do it together- more practice!! Yay!   Practice together until you are confident that all students can complete the task independently.  Finally, you are ready to turn the activity into a literacy center where students can build and write complete sentences on their own.  

Wondering where you’re going to find literacy center activities that give students this sort of practice? I’ve got you totally covered!  Today I’m happy to share a variety of activities that give students the practice they need to master writing in full sentences.  These resources all make engaging literacy center activities that can be used all year long!  

Activities to Help Students Write in Full Sentences

Write the Room Activities

I love Write the Room activities because they give students practice with both READING and WRITING full sentences.  The sentences follow an SoR-aligned phonics scope and sequence so students practice decoding and applying taught phonics skills in writing.  After transcribing the sentence, they read it to themselves and then quietly to a friend to build fluency. Students love them because they’re interactive and allow them to get up and move around the classroom!  

Write the Room-Yearlong Bundle

These differentiated Write the Room decodable sentence activities give kindergarten, first and second grade students practice reading and writing words that contain targeted phonics skills. 

Research tells us that effective instruction is systematic. Systematic instruction is teaching that has a carefully planned sequence.  Our Write the Room resource follows a research-based, SoR-aligned scope and sequence that builds from the simplest to the most complex.  The sentences students read and write build on previous learning and teach high-frequency sounds before less useful sounds. The scope and sequence minimizes learning interference and allows for differentiation. 

The Write the Room center includes 2 levels of sentences to make it easy for you to differentiate. The Level 1 sentences follow the 1st grade scope and sequence and the Level 2 sentences follow the 2nd grade scope and sequence. Students are taught to record the version of the sentence they can decode. They must also match each sentence to the correct picture on their recording sheet as a self-check for decoding skills.

At the bottom of each recording sheet, there is a checklist that students fill in as they read the sentences aloud to build fluency. This ensures students get to practice writing AND reading words with the target phonics skill.

Ready to give these Write the Room Decodable Sentences a try in your classroom? Download a FREE sample of the resource HERE!

Write the Room – Predictable Alphabet Sentences

If you have kindergarteners or students who are not quite ready for the 1st-grade scope and sequence, the Alphabet Write the Room resource is the perfect resource for you. This resource includes simple alphabet sentences that feature words that follow our Kindergarten scope and sequence, as well as early sight words.

Students will be engaged as they move around the room looking for the picture words to write that complete the sentences on their recording sheet. After they find and record all the words they read the simple sentences to practice and build their fluency.

This resource includes both handwriting and phonemic awareness activities because we know these are essential skills for our beginning readers and writers. When students get to the handwriting picture cards, there is a picture cue to prompt the student to say the beginning sound. For example, before they trace and try writing the letter M, they will first say the /m/ sound.

Both the Write the Room – Predictable Alphabet Sentences and Write the Room- Yearlong Bundle are simple to prep!  Just print the sentences or words, laminate, and cut them apart. Then tape them around your classroom for students to find, read and write!  Both activities make an engaging and interactive activity for morning warm-ups, centers, or small group learning.

Sentence Building Activities

Kindergarten Sentence Building Activities

The Kindergarten Sentence Building Activities make a great literacy center activity to help young students learn to write in full sentences.  Students BUILD a sentence and then WRITE the sentence on their worksheet.  

The resource includes two versions of recording paper to help you differentiate.  Each printable includes a picture for support and a checklist to help students build accuracy and independence. 

Sentence Building Center Bundle

The Sentence Building Center Bundle is a differentiated, hands-on literacy center designed for emergent and early fluent readers.   For this activity students build seasonal themed sentences with word cards, write the sentences out and then edit them using a checklist. Students can then practice building fluency by reading it to themselves and to a friend!  

This resource includes TWO versions of each sentence to ensure all students are appropriately supported and challenged! students while building confidence and mastery!  

The Kindergarten Sentence Building resource and the Sentence Building Center both come with sentences for EACH season of the year! Teach them how to complete the activity just once and then they can engage in meaningful sentence building and writing practice all year long!  

The resources also both come in digital and printable versions.  This allows you to use them for distance learning or on tablets and computers in the classroom!  

As teachers of younger children, we have the awesome responsibility of teaching them the foundations of writing, skills that will be built upon throughout their academic career.  I hope you’ll use the information and resources I’ve shared today to give your students the instruction and practice they need to master the art of writing in complete sentences!  

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