Sunday, October 2, 2011

Everything You Need to Build a Sentence

OK, I will begin by saying this was not really a least it was not created as such...but when children began begging to play it and a non-home schooling friend of my daughters asked for a copy for herself, I began to think differently about it.

Everything You Need to Build a Sentence was originally created to teach my daughter the parts of a sentence. It was meant to introduce her to verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc. Cortney began playing with this "manipulative" and having so much fun.

What is Everything You Need to Build a Sentence? A board (one for each player) and a deck of cards in five different colors.

The Board:

Using a piece of white poster board about 4 inches tall by 12 inches long, I drew a grid. This was simply a row of six rectangles. In the first rectangle I wrote the words "A," "An," and "The" in a vertical column. The rest of the rectangles each had a color word in, blue, green, yellow, purple.

The Cards:

The cards were made from index cards cut in fourths and corresponded to the colors on the playing board.

On the pink cards I wrote adjectives (one on each card) small, fat, rich, green, silly, tough, etc.

On the blue cards I wrote nouns like: boy, dinosaur, caterpillar, astronaut, mother, etc.

On the green cards were verbs like: ran, climbed, jumped, ate, swam, etc.

On the yellow cards were prepositional phrases that would answer the question where, like: in the field, behind the barn, under the table, on the moon, inside the box, etc.

On the orange cards were phrases that would answer the question when, like: in the morning, after lunch, in May, on my birthday, on Christmas morning, etc.

To play: (solitaire--the way I originally intended)

The child would shuffle up each deck of cards and place them in separate piles. Using the board as a card holder for correct placement of the order of the cards, the child then draws one card from each deck and places it in the correct rectangle on the board. What she gets is a sentence. Most likely a very silly sentence, but it was a sentence.

My daughter would usually do this near me while I was busy with another activity such as preparing dinner. I would be able to listen and chat with her about her sentences.

Cortney would read me her sentence and we would laugh. Then we would talk about the sentence. I would use words like noun, verb, adjective, prepositional phrase, etc. to get her acquainted with the functions they each performed in a sentence.

Then we would talk about what might make this sentence make more sense. What if she changed the verb? Instead of having the dinosaur "swimming" under the table, maybe he would be "hiding" there. So she would keep exchanging cards, laughing at each new result, until she thought she had the best sentence. Often her mood was in "silly mode" and the sillier the sentence the more she liked it.

One day when she had a particularly silly sentence, I asked her how that could possibly happen, and Phase Two of this exercise began. She proceeded to tell me a short story of how "The purple father cried in the haystack at midnight." (or whatever, that sentence may have been....) So we started doing some creative story telling and writing. She began putting some of her stories in a book and drawing pictures to go with them.

So how did this become a GAME???

A few years later, Cortney is now 10 and Kyle is 7, we were camping for the summer. I brought along many of our games and Everything You Need to Build a Sentence was one of them. Cortney told the other children she met about this funny game she had and out it came. We had to draw some playing boards for each of the other children as they all quickly got into making sentences. Each was determined to have the silliest one. The laughter around the picnic table was so delightful to listen to.

Later that fall we got a nice letter from one of the girls that had been at the campground. She asked for a copy of the it is is a GAME.

BONUS 1: When I first created this game for Cortney, Kyle begged to play because we were obviously having so much fun playing. So I created a version for Kyle. The only difference was the reading level of the cards. Kyle needed cards that he could read himself to truly enjoy the game. So Kyle got a version he could read. Later, all the cards were just mixed together.

BONUS 2: Create cards around special interests of a child. Because I am now using these with my grandsons, I added a bunch of cards that had to do with knights, hunting, pirates, and dragons...some of their favorite things. When Diana gets reading and needs cards, she will want to be reading about princesses, ballerinas, fairies, AND all the things her brothers are doing!

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