Sentence details can be a hard thing for younger students to develop. Recently, I noticed a dip in my students’ sentence writing abilities. They would take a noun and add very simple details around it. For example, if they were writing a sentence about a bug they would simply write “I see a bug.” Or if they were writing a sentence about a book, I would get something like “There is a book.”
This was ok at the beginning of 1st grade but now in April I wanted more when it came to their writing and sentence details. So I developed this anchor chart and activity to go along with it, and I have seen major improvements in all of their sentence details!
Teaching Sentence Details Step 1
Introduce the anchor chart to students. My school has a poster printer so I get this printed and laminated full size but you can always project the image, transfer it to chart paper using color markers, or just use it as an 8 X 10.
Read them the example sentence “He rides his bike” and tell them we don’t really know much more than somebody is riding a bike.
Ask students questions such as:
- Who is riding the bike?
- What does the bike look like?
- Where is he riding the bike?
- Why is he riding a bike?
Students won’t be able to answer any of these questions from the sentence we started with which was “He rides a bike.”
Now as a class come up with a who, where, when, why, or what kind and show them how to turn it into a great sentence…one that has sentence details!
Ask students who is riding the bike, when they rode the bike, why they rode the bike, where they rode the bike to, and a what kind. In the anchor chart sentence they chose to tell what kind of store but they could have just as easily told what kind of bike it was such as a red bike, mountain bike, etc.
Now work as a class to put all of those sentence details together to create a quality sentence with lots of details.
Teaching Sentence Details Step 2
After we have extensively went over the anchor chart, I put them with a partner and we use our vertical boards or wipeboards to go around the room and practice.
If you have not used vertical boards or wipeboards they are a must! They are like chart paper but they are dry erase. I have a set of 10 around my room and we use them for all kinds of things. The students love them! If you don’t have them this can easily be done on chart paper or even notebook paper.
One rule with the vertical boards that I like to use is the student with the marker does the writing, but they can only write what their partner tells them to write. If their partner does not know what to say they have to switch and the other student gets the marker so that their partner can tell them what to write. This ensures that both partners are doing something and have a job.
I put a simple sentence at the top of the board such as these:
- The dog barks.
- He goes swimming
- She drives the car.
- There is a bug.
- I see a fox.
The first partner group at that sentence must choose one of the details from the top of the anchor chart to add (who, what kind, when, why, or where). They can only pick one detail to add. They will agree on the detail and write a new sentence under my sentence. So if they are at the board that says “The dog barks” they may choose to add what kind and write “The brown dog barks.” They could have also picked the detail where and written “The dog barks at the park.” Then they draw a line under their sentence.
Teaching Sentence Details Step 3
Now the partner groups will rotate to the next board. First, they will read the sentences that are on the board. Before they can come up with their new sentence, they have to decide which detail the group before them added (who, what kind, when, why, or where) and write it in the box with that sentence.
Now they can come up with their new sentence and detail and write it on the board. If the group before them added a who they cannot add a new who or change the who that group used. They must pick a new detail to add such as what kind, where, when, or why. For the most part they will be writing the same sentence that is on the board but adding one detail to it.
Students will continue to rotate boards following these same steps to create a good quality sentence.
Teaching Sentence Details Conclusion
You don’t have to have students add all of the detail options (who, what kind, when, why, or where) if it doesn’t work for your sentences. Sometimes adding all of them makes the sentence way too long and takes away from the quality. Use your judgment and stop them when you feel their sentences sound good!
As a last step I go around the room and read the first sentence I wrote on their board and the final sentence the last group came up with to let them hear how much better it sounds. My kids love doing this activity and it helps their writing tremendously.
After a couple of times practicing like this I move them on to completing the activity alone in their independent work. They have to pick words from the top of the page and add as many details as they can to create a good quality sentence.
Need practice pages for your class? Grab this pack with 53 different printables that also align to 8 different phonics patterns such as short vowels, vowel teams, blends and more!
Read more about phonics and get free phonics practice pages here!