Learning to write can be difficult for even the most motivated children. Writing is a complex skill that arises from the continual interplay of development and learning, and therefore a range of individual variation is to be expected in the rate and pace at which children gain literacy skills, according to a joint position statement of the International Reading Association and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Taking the time and effort to use humorous activities and wordplay pays off by keeping interest levels high and writer's block at bay.
Noun and Verb Game
With the child's help, create a list of nouns, such as cat, helicopter and tree, then create a similar list of verbs, such as "ran," "jumped" and "learn." The point of the game is to use one word from each group to create simple sentences. Enhance this game with the use of different colored pens for the nouns and verbs, such as green for nouns and red for verbs. An extension of this game is to add on to the simple, noun-verb sentence. Take time to review the concepts of a capital letter at the beginning, a noun, verb and punctuation at the end. Have the child or group read the sentences aloud to check for a complete thought.
This activity lets the children be the teachers by empowering them to "find the mistake." Begin by writing sentences or a paragraph with errors for the children to check. Focus on nouns, verbs, capitals and punctuation. Once the children understand the game, write a sentence with all the other requirements except the more abstract concept of a complete thought. Finish by having the children describe what is necessary to fix the sample sentences. Again, using specific colors for nouns and verbs, highlight those key parts of a sentence.
Playing With Sentences
This is a thought-provoking activity that allows the child to look more deeply at the formation of a sentence. Provide the children with a sentence and ask them to take out the noun or verb. Read the "sentence" aloud and ask the group how it sounds. An alternative exercise is to ask the children to change the punctuation, taking into consideration what other parts of the sentence they may need to alter to make the sentence correct.
This is a straightforward game that can be easily tailored to the child's verbal level. Begin by writing a word, such as "cat." The child must then create a sentence that makes sense, including a verb, capital letter and punctuation. Switch the game by using one verb as the starter word. Add the challenge of two words when this has become easy for the child. For example, use the words "dog" and "brown" and have the child complete the sentence.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children
- Word Central: Student Dictionary: Sentence
- University of Houston: Make a Complete Sentence
- University of Cambridge: Interactive Teaching in Literacy and Language
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