Teaching Sentence Structure in First Grade with Silly Sentences

During a fishing trip this weekend with our daughter, my husband and I were discussing how we could improve her journal writing assignments in first grade.  One of the things she is struggling with is understanding when she’s putting words down on paper that they need articles, nouns, and verbs, along with proper capitalization and punctuation.   This is all very normal for the beginning of first grade.

We also know that my daughter loves games.  If we can turn a learning activity into family game night, she will enjoy every minute of the learning activity.  As we were discussing how we could create a Mad Libs style game, I said, “What if we printed out words like those ‘create a poem magnets’ you see on refrigerators, and then we just let her create sentences.”

One problem still existed … how would she know the proper sentence structure or order in which to place the words.   A quick search on Pinterest for “silly sentences first grade” showed several different ways people were using a “Silly Rainbow Sentence” activity to teach sentence structure.  When we got home, I decided to create my own version of the activity.

If you think it would benefit your child, too, you can download the Over the Rainbow Silly Sentences Game I created for us to use at home for free.  I’ve also included blank cards of each color, so you can write your own words to expand your list of cards.  If you’re looking for a more comprehensive version of the activity, a quick search for “Silly Sentences” on Teachers Pay Teachers will reveal even more versions of this activity.  Note that in the free download there are words that don’t fit with the sentence structure that you may want to pull from your game.  There are also pronouns/articles that are written in lowercase that you may want to pull.  I did this on purpose, as we are a practicing remembering that a sentence starts with a capital letter, and also so we can discuss word choice.  But if you are using this as an independent activity instead of a game, you may want to pull those words.

How to Use

  • Cut out the cards and sort by color
  • Print the color code sentence structure sheet and put inside a page protector.
  • Draw one word from each color pile and put it into a sentence in rainbow color order.
  • Write the sentence on the sentence structure sheet using a dry erase marker.
  • Repeat.

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Silly Rainbow Sentences Activity - Teaching Sentence Structure in First Grade

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