Sadly children often seem to miss out on the idea that sentences are just something we might say! People rarely mention the fact that we are speaking in sentences even when listening and speaking is on the curriculum.
Then writing skills are encouraged and there is a strong focus on a capital letter at the beginning and full-stop at the end and the function of a sentence seems to escape. Good early talkers are more likely to cope well with literacy skills. The children with delayed language development – for whatever reason – are having new pressure put on them when they try and tackle written communication. Really they should be getting help to improve their spoken language skills first.
It’s great to practise making up something about a new word or object – just talking. Take turns to choose a picture and say something. Or find an object in a feelie bag. Or use a given word in a spoken sentence. Accept anything a child says – you can ‘comment’ on both the correctness of fact and the grammar by confirming you got the message with a feedback remark without saying it was wrong or requesting repetition. Remember children need lots of time to collect their thoughts and words – the ‘sentence’ may take a long time coming! Try not to interrupt or finish the child’s sentence for them.
These are some relevant resources – some overlap with the page on Questions. These are not in developmental order – look for what seems appropriate.
SENTENCE COMPLETION USING CONTEXT sentences 1 Worksheets requiring sentence completion with nouns beginning with g/ch/j to fit the context given.
PUNCTUATION I – MARK THE END OF SENTENCES sentences 2 Resource intended to draw attention to the fact that sentences are not always statements. Mind-map as a reminder. Set of conversations (with PCS or Widgit symbols as illustrations) for children to complete with sentence end markers.
PICTURES FOR LANGUAGE WORK sentences 3 A selection of pictures chosen for their usefulness in making up good sentences to include who/doing what/where information and for asking questions to elicit this information.
MAKE QUESTIONS and STATEMENTS sentences 4 Basically this is an activity requiring rearrangement of word cards to make questions or statements but there are other ideas in the guide too.
SPEAKING AND LISTENING PLUS sentences 5 A set of double-sided cards with pictures one side and mixed questions on the other for the adult to ask. Designed to give practice with responding appropriately to different question words, and picture description. Pictures can also be used as a prompt for writing sentences, and for pairing up with given sentences as a reading for meaning task.
INFER WHAT IS MISSING FROM PICTURE SEQUENCES sentences 6 4-picture sequences. One picture is omitted from each sequence and the gap is intended to promote discussion and inference.
INFERENCE: INFER WHAT IS MISSING FROM SEQUENCES 2 sentences 7 4-picture sequences illustrated with PCS or Widgit symbols. One picture is omitted from each sequence and the gap is intended to promote discussion and inference. The missing pictures are included for later use. Can be used for writing missing links and/or whole stories.
PUNCTUATION II – PUTTING IN THE SPEECH MARKS sentences 8 Resource to draw attention to a variety of verbs which can stand for ‘said’. Practise picking out the actual words spoken to write in a speech bubble. Mark up speech marks and missing punctuation correctly on the sentences by pictures. Illustrated with ClipArt. Mind-map created with Widgit’s Communicate Ideas about different types of sentences, the punctuation mark each ends with, and how we mark direct speech.
QUESTIONS AND SENTENCES ABOUT PICTURES sentences 9 A set of ClipArt pictures and word cards. The activity is to ask questions in a barrier game and select word cards to match the replies and build sentences. Other suggested activities plus thoughts about asking questions orally or with worksheets to target different developmental levels.
ALTERNATIVES FOR SAID sentences 10 5 pages of cartoons with a selection of verb possibilities to use instead of ‘said’. A writing column requires an event and some actual speech in a bubble. My other resources which link to this are (1) Match Speech Bubbles to Pics, (2) Punctuation – Mark the End of Sentences; and (3) Punctuation II – Putting in the Speech Marks.
SENTENCES: WHEN/PRONOUN/ACTION ACTIVITIES sentences 11 Cards to sequence and say sentences of graded complexity to include a when-phrase with days or months, a who-pronoun (he/she/they), and a verb. Virtually no reading required. Practise present/future/past. Suggestions for use included.