Hands-on Activities for Compound Sentences

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The three main learning styles are aural (related to the sense of hearing), visual and active or kinesthetic. Although about 65 percent of the population are visual learners, according to The Visual Teaching Alliance, there are still many learners who need a hands-on approach. A kinesthetic approach can be used to teach about compound sentences.

1 Sentence Scramble

Put students into groups of 3. Give each group two large sheets of construction paper in two colors, scissors and a marker. Instruct your students to choose one sheet of paper and cut it into long strips. Give the class an overall topic such as "walking the dog" or "your last birthday party," and ask each group to write 10 simple sentences on the topic. Next, instruct them to create shorter strips with the other piece of construction paper and then write out as many connecting words as they can think of. (Remind them of the acronym FANBOYS to recall coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet and so.) In the last part of the exercise, ask each group to choose two sentence strips and a conjunction to create a compound sentence and read it to the class. This exercise can be repeated until all the sentences are used by all the groups.

Vocabulary Builder

2 Learning in Context

Have students comb through a passage of literature, either from a class reading or an individual book. Either you or they will choose a section. Give them a graphic organizer set up as a chart: the first column is for the first simple sentence (independent clause); the second column is for the conjunction; and the third column is for the second simple sentence. Instruct students to chart the compound sentences that they find in the passage. This hands-on activity presupposes that students already have been taught the difference between a dependent and independent clause and know the definition of a compound sentence.

3 Compound Sentence Dominoes

Prepare index cards that have various words as different parts of speech: nouns, verbs, conjunctions, prepositions, and so forth. It will be helpful to label each word as a particular part of speech, since words will vary as parts of speech, according to their usage. Put a selection of index cards in bowls, and assign kids to groups of 3, 4, or 5. Using any game that works on a points system, instruct students to play the game, but instead of receiving points, they receive index cards pulled randomly from the bowl. The first person to create a compound sentence wins, and part of the fun is seeing what kind of silly sentences students will create.

4 Combining Choppy Sentences

Write a paragraph with short choppy sentences. Each sentence should contain one idea, and the entire paragraph should be about one topic. Create groups of 4 students, and distribute sentence-strip paper. Ask students to work together to rewrite the paragraph using compound sentences. Ask them to write each compound sentence on a strip of paper. Using one of the walls in the room or large sheets of butcher paper, have each group hang their sentence strips.

Brittany Laneaux has been teaching writing since 2004. Her work appears on various websites and she has provided Web content, brochures, freelance blogging and other writing assignments through her graphic/Web design and print business. Laneaux holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.