Sentence Building: A Differentiated Literacy Center

Free sentence building activities! This DIFFERENTIATED writing center will help students practice writing conventions and build reading fluency skills.

As teachers we know that in any classroom you’ll find a wide range of abilities among students.  While we can probably all agree that differentiating instruction is important, meeting the needs of all your students can often feel like a daunting task. In fact, a 2008 report by the Fordham Institute found that 83% of teachers nationwide believe that differentiation is “somewhat” or “very” difficult to implement. 

I want to help you see that differentiation does NOT have to mean more work for you! I love creating resources that allow you to work SMARTER instead of harder and today I’m excited to share with you some free sentence building activities that will engage and support your wide range of learners!

sentence building activities

What is the Sentence Building Center? 

The Sentence Building Center is a hands-on literacy center that will keep students engaged all year long!  They will 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!  With 2 versions of each sentence, this center is easily differentiated!  It both supports and challenges students while building confidence and mastery!  

Who benefits from the Sentence Building Center? 

I love this center because all students can gain something valuable from it.  I think we all have students who struggle to form and write complete sentences, need more practice with writing conventions such as capitalization, punctuation, and spacing, or could use more practice reading fluently.  This one center activity provides ALL OF THAT! 

Furthermore, there are 2 versions of each sentence in the center.  One is aimed at emergent readers, while the other is best fit for early fluent readers.   

Let’s take a closer look at each of these versions so you can determine which level is the best fit for your individual students…

Emergent Sentences

Sentence Building activities

Readers at this stage have begun to learn sound/symbol relationships–starting with consonants and short vowels–and are able to read CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, as well as a number of high-frequency words. Students would benefit from the Emergent Sentences: 

  • illustrations provide strong support while reading text
  • limited text in a sentence
  • contains familiar objects (e.g. dog, letters of the alphabet ) and experiences (e.g. going to school)
  • contains and repeats high-frequency words

Early Fluent Sentences

Sentence Building activities

Readers at this stage have developed an understanding of the alphabet, phonological awareness, and early phonics. They have command of a significant number of high-frequency words. Students would benefit from the Early Fluent Sentences: 

  • less dependent on illustrations to support the reader 
  • more complex sentence structure
  • possess a richer vocabulary
  • more complex high-frequency words

Want to try this engaging center in your class? Download a sample below!

In addition to matching students to the appropriate level, it is important to take the time to explicitly teach and model the process of this activity in order to promote student success.  Taking time to thoroughly teach your expectations for this center will really pay off because it is one you will use all throughout the year!  Finally, after many requests from upper elementary teachers to create a hands-on activity that would help their students with sentence structure, I’m excited to share a Sentence Building Activity for 3-5 grade students!  YAY!!  

Sentence Building for Upper Grade Students

This activity provides upper grade students with practice building compound and complex sentences.  It requires them to add greater detail to their writing and to edit their work using a self-editing checklist.  The sentences are all based around a seasonal theme but I did go ahead and make the graphics a little less cutesy because well, #uppergrades!  🙂 

Each seasonal resource includes 12 compound and 12 complex themed sentences ready for students to build and record.  There are two different activities you can do with these sentences.  Below is an example using the “Spring” themed sentences.

For Option #1 students build, read, and record three sentences on the lettered worksheets.

For Option #2 students build a single sentence and record it on the numbered worksheet that matches the Spring icon. They then use that sentence as the start of a short story to which they’ll add descriptive details. 

Both sentence building worksheets can be used with the compound or complex sentences and have a self-editing checklist for students to use.

INCLUDED in this resource:

  • Compound sentences list with matching icons
  • Complex sentence list with matching icons
  • 12 build and write sentences with short stories
  • 4 build, read, and record sentences worksheets

Want to try this engaging center in your class? Download a sample below!

I hope that the Sentence Building Center- K-2 Bundle and the Sentence Building Activity for 3-5 grade students have helped you see that differentiation does not have to equal more work for you!  The right resources have the power to meet the diverse needs of your students, and keep them engaged and excited about learning all year long!  


free sentence building activities

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