I don’t know about you, but I hate teaching sentence types. Declarative, interrogative, exclamatory, imperative…who cares! As long as students can write and correctly punctuate a sentence, I’m happy. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with me and I do have to teach the formal terms for the four types of sentences. Fortunately, no one really seems to care how I teach the information, so long as the students learn it. Today I’d like to share with you one activity and one game that all of my students enjoy when learning this particular vocabulary.
Sentence Types Mobile Project
As you have probably figured out by now, and I explain in my Authentic Open Book Assessments post, I’m not a big fan of traditional assessments. I prefer what I call “cheating-resistant” or “non-Googleable” assessments. I’m also a big fan of assignments that result in classroom displays (see my posts on Appetizing Adjectives, Picture Perfect Prepositions, Pronoun Snowpeople, and Shades of Meaning for more examples). So, rather than assign a worksheet where students fill in the correct end punctuation and label the sentence types, or a similar assessment, I decided to have them create mobiles. Each mobile had several required elements: all four sentence types had to be named, definitions for all sentence types, end punctuation for each sentence type had to be indicated, and three example sentences for each type had to be included. How students put their mobile together and communicated this information was up to their imagination. All I asked was that their final product be creative, neat, and organized. Yes, I do realize that students could still Google the definitions and example sentences. Yes, I do realize that they could still cheat. But it is much less likely for them to be able to do this when they complete the assignment in class. Let’s also be honest here: if a student really wants to cheat, he/she will find a way. I just do the best I can and ask the same of them.
The creativity of students never ceases to amaze me! I provide them with construction paper, glue, yarn, hangers, hole punches, and markers. If they want to use other supplies they are welcome to anything in the classroom, or they can bring them from home. Some students have brought things such as glitter (which I grudgingly allowed and then regretted), but most have been content to work with the supplies we had on hand. One particularly creative student brought in a craft ring and fashioned a three-point hanger out of the yarn. Another student attempted to make punctuation marks out of balloons, trying to twist and bend them as you would a balloon animal, but wasn’t totally successful. Suffice it to say, the end results are always at least interesting, and often inspiring.
To make the use of this particular activity easier, I have a free download for you. The download includes a very brief project requirements description, a simple rubric, and templates you can allow the students to use (if you choose) or you can use to create an example mobile. You can get the download by clicking on the picture above, or either of the links in this paragraph.
Sentence Types Training Game
The game we like to play is another of my cover up games. You can read all about cover up games in the linked blog post, but I’ll give you a brief description now. The goal of cover up is to be the first person to completely cover your game board. Generally I use milk jug lids as covers (because they are free and plentiful at my house), but other popular options with my classes have been counters and mini erasers (some kind of dog themed eraser would be cute with this particular game). On a student’s turn, he or she will roll either two six-sided dice or one twelve-sided die. The student then finds the corresponding square on his/her game board and states what type of sentence it is. If he/she is correct, he/she covers the space. If the corresponding space is already covered, the student does nothing and his/her turn is over. Sometimes my students prefer to play with the additional rule that allows them to remove their opponent’s cover from the indicated space, but we don’t always do this.
This particular game is themed around sentences you might say to your dog. I play up the fact that I often talk to my dog, Karah, and she often gets confused. The students need to help her by correctly categorizing and punctuating the sentences on the board. Even my older students think it’s funny I talk to my dog (and will generally admit to doing the same), and it allows me to be a little silly with them. Each playing board has twelve unique sentences, so when students finish one game they are able to trade boards and play again immediately.
As with many of my games and activities, this particular one needed to be adapted for distance learning. The paper version is great, but it doesn’t work so well while teaching digitally. A digital version is also available, and students enjoy playing it just as much. To create the digital version, I simply adjusted the “Dice” Script that my husband wrote for me so it would allow students to “roll” a number between one and twelve, rather than one and six. The students really like playing the various digital board games, and I really like how these scripts allow them to play without having to move between multiple tabs or programs.
Sadly I haven’t come up with a digital alternative to our mobile project, so we had to forego doing it this year. In the meantime, we enjoyed playing Sentence Types Training Game, and are looking forward to the fall and hopefully being back in the classroom. Happy teaching, everyone!