In middle school, students learn the different types of sentences: simple, compound, complex and compound-complex. They also learn the components needed for each type of sentence, such as independent clauses, coordinating conjunctions and subordinate clauses. While most students learn to recognize sentences and sentence components by diagramming, sentence structure games can be more fun for your class and allow students to learn from each other.
Sentence Scramble Games
Sentence scramble games help teach students different types of sentences and sentence structure by having them put together a sentence rather than diagram it. Divide your class into several groups, and hand each group a baggy containing cutout words. Tell students which type of sentence they need to put together, and have groups compete to put the sentence together the fastest. When a group is finished, have it name each part of the sentence. You can also do this as a whole class activity and have volunteer students try to put together cut-apart sentences on the board.
Class Team Jeopardy Games
Class team games can motivate your class to learn as they compete. Start a game of sentence structure Jeopardy, dividing your class into two teams. Play the game during the last 10 to 20 minutes of class for a week, promising a prize for the winning team. Have each team designate a team leader, who will "buzz in" and answer questions. For the game you can either bring in a buzzer or have students drum on their desks. Divide 50 sentences evenly into values of 10 to 50 points, and keep a tally of team points in the corner of the board all week. Read off a sentence, and have students classify the sentence and the sentence structure to gain points. If one team gets the question wrong, the other team will have a chance to answer it correctly.
Online sentence structure games are interactive and can be a fun way for middle school students to learn sentence structure. Many online games can be found on education websites for free. Some games incorporate naming the classification of sentences into a board game scenario, some are sentence scrambles and some involve punctuating sentences. Games can help young students learn, because students will want to win the game. (For links to some free online sentence structure games, see Resources.)
Another type of game you can play with your middle school class to help teach students sentence structure is a matching game. Give students a baggy of sentence structure classifications, such as "independent clause" and "simple sentence," and their definitions. Have students match the word with the definition as quickly as possible, rewarding the fastest three students. Matching games can also be played in groups or as a whole class using the board. You can write out a list of words and their definitions and have volunteer students try to match the word with the definition.
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