Part of the second-grade curriculum involves teaching students to recognize and write complete sentences. This learned skill can be taught in a variety of ways. Teach students how to identify both complete and incomplete sentences. Students should also be able to change an incomplete sentence into a complete one.

Sentence vs. Not a Sentence

Help students recognize a complete sentence.
Help students recognize a complete sentence.

Help students recognize a complete sentence. Remind students that a sentence states a complete idea. Give each student two index cards. Have students write "Sentence" on one and "Not a sentence" on the other. Read a phrase aloud to your class or write it on the board. Students determine whether it is a complete sentence and hold up the appropriate index card.

Sentence vs. Fragment

Write a variety of sentences and fragments on the board or overhead projector.
Write a variety of sentences and fragments on the board or overhead projector.

Teach students to recognize the difference between a complete sentence and a fragment. Write a variety of sentences and fragments on the board or overhead projector. An example of a complete sentence could be, "The dog was barking." An example of a fragment could be, "Our classroom." Show some sentences without capitalization at the beginning, some without punctuation at the end and some that do not contain both a subject and a verb. Have students draw a vertical line down the center of a sheet of paper. Students should copy the examples of a complete sentence on the right-hand side of the paper and examples of fragments on the left.

Sentence Flower

Student cutting
Student cutting

Teach students the parts of a descriptive, complete sentence by creating sentence flowers. Each student should cut out four petals, one round flower center, two leaves and one stem from colored construction paper or clipart that you print out. Instruct students to write a subject on the center of the flower, one adjective on each petal and one verb on each leaf. Students will then form a complete sentence from their words and write it on the stem of their flower. All pieces of the flower should be glued together.

Complete the Sentence

Give students a worksheet that lists examples of incomplete sentences.
Give students a worksheet that lists examples of incomplete sentences.

Have students create a complete sentence out of a fragment or incomplete sentence. Give students a worksheet that lists examples of incomplete sentences. Instruct students to make corrections to the sentence to make it complete. Remind students that they may have to capitalize the beginning of the sentence, add punctuation to the end, or create a full idea. Students should also check to see that there is a subject and verb in the sentence.