4 Tips to Get Students Writing in Complete Sentences (2023)

Full sentences are the foundation of good writing. In this post, I’m sharing tips for teaching students to write in complete sentences and then details about literacy center activities that help kindergarten, first, and second grade students learn to write complete sentences.

Writing is a core skill we use all throughout our life. The ability to write in full sentences is the foundation of writing. As adults we don’t think much about sentence structure, ending punctuation, capital letters, etc. – but that’s not the case for our young students. It’s all new to them! They need direct instruction on how to write in complete sentences and lots of time to practice doing it.

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So today I am excited to share 4 simple steps for teaching students to write in complete sentences and a variety of literacy center activities that will give students the practice they need to master this valuable skill.

Steps for Teaching Students to Write in Complete Sentences

1. Directly Teach!

For students to become good writers, the skills must be taught systematically and explicitly. Teach them that complete sentences can be short or long, but they must have two basic parts, a subject and a predicate. The subject tells WHO or WHAT the sentence is about. The predicate is the ACTION part of the sentence. It tells what the subject is doing.

Also teach students that sentences must begin with a capital letter and end with a punctuation mark. Explain that statements that tell us something end in a period (.). Those that ask a question end with a question mark (?) and those that express strong emotion/surprise always end with an exclamation mark (!).

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2. Model, Model, Model

Never underestimate the importance of modeling! It’s the most powerful tool in your toolbox! There are a lot of different ways you can model writing full sentences.

💗 Elicit the subject and predicate from your students and then model how you turn those two things into a complete sentence.

💗 Use think alouds to let students hear what you think about when you write a complete sentence. For example, “I start with a capital letter….include a subject….space my words out…. include an action word….end with the proper punctuation.”

💗 Model how you reread the sentences aloud to catch and correct silly mistakes.

💗Show your student how you use a checklist to ensure your sentences have everything they need!

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3. Use Anchor Charts

Create a place for students to reference the information you have taught. You can create an anchor chart and display it in your writing center or use mini anchor charts that students can glue into their writing notebook or folder. Whatever you do, make sure you first teach your students how to use the charts and then consistently remind them to refer back to them.

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4. Practice, Practice, Practice!

In order to master writing in full sentences students need plenty of opportunities for practice and review. Find literacy center activities that give students practice building and writing full sentences. This assures they get regular, repeated practice.

(Video) 3 Tricks to Teach Students How to Write in Complete Sentences

Once you’ve chosen a center activity, start by introducing it to the whole class. Clearly model how to complete the task and then do it together- more practice!! Yay! Practice together until you are confident that all students can complete the task independently. Finally, you are ready to turn the activity into a literacy center where students can build and write complete sentences on their own.

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Wondering where you’re going to find literacy center activities that give students this sort of practice? I’ve got you totally covered! Today I’m happy to share a variety of activities that give students the practice they need to master writing in full sentences. These resources all make engaging literacy center activities that can be used all year long!

Activities to Help Students Write in Full Sentences

Write the Room Activities

I love Write the Room activities because they give students practice with both READING and WRITING full sentences. Students love them because they’re interactive and allow them to get up and move around the classroom!

Write the Room – Predictable Alphabet Sentences

For emergent readers I have Write the Room – Predictable Alphabet Sentences. For this activity students move around looking for alphabet picture words they’ll use to complete simple sentences. The alphabet sentences feature predictable sentence starters with early sight words.

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After they find and record all the alphabet words, they can then read them aloud as a way to build reading fluency skills.

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Write the Room-Yearlong Bundle

For emergent and more advanced readers, I have the Write the Room-Yearlong Bundle. For this activity, students grab a clipboard and go on a hunt around the classroom for picture cards with sentences that he or she can read. Then they record the sentences and get practice both reading sentences with basic sight words and writing complete sentences.

To help you differentiate, the resource includes TWO versions (emergent and advanced) of each picture. Hang the emergent and advanced sentences side by side and teach your students to choose a “good fit” sentence to read and record.

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Both the Write the Room – Predictable Alphabet Sentences and Write the Room- Yearlong Bundle are simple to prep! Just print the sentences or words, laminate, and cut them apart. Then tape them around your classroom for students to find, read and write! Both activities make an engaging and interactive activity for morning warm-ups, centers, or small group learning.

  • Write the Room – Predictable Alphabet Sentences


    (Video) Writing Strategies | 6 Ways to Start a Sentence | Sentence Structure | Learn to Write

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  • Write the Room – Yearlong BUNDLE

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Sentence Building Activities

Kindergarten Sentence Building Activities

The Kindergarten Sentence Building Activities make a great literacy center activity to help young students learn to write in full sentences. Students BUILD a sentence and then WRITE the sentence on their worksheet.

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The resource includes two versions of recording paper to help you differentiate. Each printable includes a picture for support and a checklist to help students build accuracy and independence.

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Sentence Building Center Bundle

The Sentence Building Center Bundle is a differentiated, hands-on literacy center designed for emergent and early fluent readers. For this activity students build seasonal themed sentences with word cards, write the sentences out and then edit them using a checklist. Students can then practice building fluency by reading it to themselves and to a friend!

This resource includes TWO versions of each sentence to ensure all students are appropriately supported and challenged! students while building confidence and mastery!

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The Kindergarten Sentence Building resource and the Sentence Building Center both come with sentences for EACH season of the year! Teach them how to complete the activity just once and then they can engage in meaningful sentence building and writing practice all year long!

(Video) How to Write Complete Sentences & When to Break the Rule

The resources also both come in digital and printable versions. This allows you to use them for distance learning or on tablets and computers in the classroom!

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As teachers of younger children, we have the awesome responsibility of teaching them the foundations of writing, skills that will be built upon throughout their academic career. I hope you’ll use the information and resources I’ve shared today to give your students the instruction and practice they need to master the art of writing in complete sentences!



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How do you write in complete sentences? ›

A complete sentence must have one main clause and a predicate. Sentence fragments: Sentence fragments have some information but are incomplete on their own. For example, “Moved south” is an incomplete sentence because it lacks a clear subject. The person reading it would rightly ask “who” or “what” moved south.

How do you help students write better sentences? ›

Below are a few simple steps teachers can take to incorporate sentence expanding into their writing instruction.
  1. Step 1: Identify What is Included in a Simple Sentence. ...
  2. Step 2: Expand the Sentence. ...
  3. Step 3: Practice Writing Expanded Sentences.
25 Apr 2017

How can I help my child write full sentences? ›

Write sentences by:
  1. Saying what they are going to write about out loud.
  2. Composing a sentence orally before writing it.
  3. Sequencing sentences to form short narratives.
  4. Re-reading what they have written to check that it makes sense.

How do you teach a first grader to write complete sentences? ›

Write a few sentences as a class reinforcing the use of a capital letter and end punctuation. Talk about how each sentence is made up of two phrases. You can even write whole sentences and ask your students to break up the sentence into its two main parts. They might notice the natural pauses that occur in sentences.

How do you teach students to write on the lines? ›

Tips for Teaching Kids to Write on Lined Paper!
  • Introduce the Concept with a Story. ...
  • Teach the Names of the Sections and Lines on the Paper Explicitly (Establish a Common Vocabulary) ...
  • Give Kids Time to Learn the Names of the Sections and Lines Whole Group.
4 May 2018

What 4 components make a sentence complete? ›

The main components of a sentence are the subject, predicate, punctuation, and capitalization. The action or the verb is performed by the subject of the sentence, and the direct object receives the action of the sentence.

What 5 things must a complete sentence have? ›

Five things sentences needed are: subject (noun), verb, capital letters, punctuation and finally must make sense.

What 3 things make a complete sentence? ›

Remember: Within a sentence, there are three main parts that make up a sentence: the subject, the verb, and the complement.

How do you get kids to write sentences? ›

Sentence stems can help children practising forming and writing sentences by giving them part of the sentence and only having to think about and write the end of the sentence. For children just beginning to write, you might have a sentence stem written out for the child such as 'I like ________' or 'I went _______'.

What are the tips for writing effective sentences? ›

6 Tips for Writing Good Sentences
  • Keep it simple. Long sentences or overly complex sentences don't necessarily make sophisticated sentence writing. ...
  • Use concrete rhetoric. ...
  • Employ parallelism. ...
  • Mind your grammar. ...
  • Properly punctuate. ...
  • Practice writing.
28 Jan 2022

Why should students write in complete sentences? ›

Writing in complete sentences is the first basic writing lesson every student should learn. Sentence structure is important to help students write in journals, responses to reading, paragraphs, essays, book reports and so much more. It will lay the foundation for good writing practices throughout the year!

How do I improve my child's writing skills? ›

Luckily, there are a few things you can do at home to help encourage your child's writing skills.
  1. Keep writing supplies on hand. ...
  2. Encourage journal writing. ...
  3. Use a chalkboard or family message board. ...
  4. Write letters. ...
  5. Provide writing prompts. ...
  6. Create a story board. ...
  7. Read before writing. ...
  8. Create your own storybook.
8 May 2015

How do you teach students to write in their own words? ›

You may want to give your students their own copies.
Paraphrase Together
  1. Reword – Replace words and phrases with synonyms whenever you can.
  2. Rearrange – Rearrange words within sentences to make new sentences. ...
  3. Realize that some words and phrases cannot be changed – names, dates, titles, etc.

How do you write lines quickly? ›

Want to Know How to Write Faster? Try These:
  1. Write Under Pressure (from Your Bladder)
  2. Outwit Writer's Block with This Old Journalist's Trick.
  3. Use Automation to Skip Two Million Keystrokes.
  4. Turn Off the Squiggly Red Lines.
  5. Invest in a Faster Pen.
  6. Do B-Minus Work.
  7. Get Zen Before You Pick Up Your Pen.
13 Jul 2022

How do you teach high school students to write? ›

Learn how to improve writing skills and help your high school students master this important accomplishment.
  1. Assess Students' Levels. ...
  2. Invite Students To Share Opinions. ...
  3. Teach Students To Brainstorm. ...
  4. Make Time for Writing Practice. ...
  5. Write as a Group. ...
  6. Encourage Reading. ...
  7. Edit Assignments in Class. ...
  8. Allow Draft Submissions.
22 Nov 2021

What are the 4 sentence structures? ›

There are four types of sentences: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex. Each sentence is defined by the use of independent and dependent clauses, conjunctions, and subordinators.

What are the four types of complete sentences? ›

There are four types of sentences in the English language: declarative, exclamatory, imperative, and interrogatory.

What are four qualities of a good sentence? ›

To be effective, a sentence should consist of the following qualities, that is, correctness, unity, clarity, coherence and emphasis (Wang, 2003). that is, correctness. In that case, they can avoid writing and making incomplete sentences and such grammatical errors.

How do you motivate children to write? ›

7 Great Ways to Encourage Your Child's Writing
  1. Write a “Convince Me!” letter. Writing isn't just about telling stories or reporting on books. ...
  2. Play a game with pictures. ...
  3. Play “Tell Me How” ...
  4. Make an “I Can” book. ...
  5. Play “Fortunately/Unfortunately” ...
  6. Make a journal jar. ...
  7. Create a family scrapbook.

What are the 4 reasons to write? ›

There are four purposes writers use for writing. When someone communicates ideas in writing, they usually do so to express themselves, inform their reader, to persuade a reader or to create a literary work.

What does it mean to write in complete sentences? ›

A complete sentence has to have a subject and a verb, and the verb has to be a "finite": A sentence with its main verb in an '-ing' form will not be a complete sentence. *Marge swimming. A sentence with its main verb in an infinitive form ("to" + verb) will not be a complete sentence. *Homer to swim.

Why is completeness important in writing? ›

Completeness. Since the goal of academic work is to inform as broad an audience as possible and to stand up under the scrutiny of diverse sets of eyes, you must flesh out your writing to address all of the major questions and doubts that your readers might have.

What are the 7 strategies of writing? ›

Elaboration: 7 Writing Strategies
  • Describe a Place in Detail. ...
  • Use Specific Words to Paint Pictures. ...
  • Show How Something Feels, Smells, Tastes, Sounds or Looks. ...
  • Compare Two Different Things Through Simile or Metaphor. ...
  • Use the Exact Thoughts or Words from a Person. ...
  • Describe How Someone or Something Moves.

What are the 5 basic writing skills? ›

Basic writing skills: These include spelling, capitalization, punctuation, handwriting and keyboarding, and sentence structure (e.g., learning to eliminate run-ons and sentence fragments). Basic writing skills are sometimes called the “mechanics” of writing.

How do you get students to elaborate in their writing? ›

How To Teach Writing 7 Strategies for Elaboration
  1. Describe a Place in Detail. ...
  2. Use Specific Words to Paint Pictures. ...
  3. Show How Something Feels, Smells, Tastes, Sounds or Looks. ...
  4. Compare Two Different Things Through Simile or Metaphor. ...
  5. Use the Exact Thoughts or Words from a Person. ...
  6. Describe How Someone or Something Moves.

What helps to lengthen simple sentences? ›

To make your sentences longer you can combine two similar sentences by adding a word or two to the first sentence and then making it a dependent clause of the second sentence. This is commonly done with two independent clauses that have a subject and verb in each sentence.

How do you increase a sentence length? ›

Combining sentences into a longer one is a simple way of fixing short and choppy sentences. Use coordinating conjunctions (or, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) to avoid strings of short, vaguely related sentences. Subordinating conjunctions (after, since, whereas, because, etc.)

How do you stop students from writing on run on sentences? ›

There are three easy ways to teach 2nd graders how to fix a run-on sentence:
  1. Add punctuation between the clauses to make separate sentences. Example: I went to the beach with my family. ...
  2. Add a conjunction to the sentence. ...
  3. Use a comma to separate clauses.

What are the 7 strategies in writing? ›

The seven strategies of highly skilled readers include activating, summarizing, monitoring and clarifying, visualizing and organizing, searching and selecting, questioning, and inferring.

What are the 4 types of elaboration? ›

Using the 4 Types of Elaboration sheet the teacher will introduce elaboration. The teacher will proceed through the four types (explain, exemplify, describe, and narrate) and expand using the Ways to Elaborate sheet.

What are the seven 7 strategies in writing? ›

The 7 stages of the EEF's writing process: Planning, Drafting, Sharing, Evaluating, Revising, Editing and Publishing.

What are the 3 ways to fix a run-on sentence? ›

Correct run-on sentences by
  1. - dividing the clauses into two sentences by inserting a period between them.
  2. - inserting a semicolon between them, if the two clauses are very closely related.
  3. - using a comma with a coordinating conjunction to separate the clauses.

How do you stop choppy writing? ›

Correcting choppy sentences
  1. Join sentences together with conjunctions. If multiple sentences relate directly to each other, show that logical connection by joining them together with words like and, but, or yet. ...
  2. Subordinate some sentences together. ...
  3. Integrate multiple sentences together.


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