Sentence Strips-Join to Make a Sentence

Sentence strips is an activity to improve the writing skills of children.Struggling readers find it difficult to write meaningful sentences. Their level of comprehension is low. In this activity, a sentence is cut into three and each part of the sentence is called strips. The challenge is to join the strips to make a sentence.

A. The benefits of this activity are listed below.

Benefits of playing the game: Sentence strips.

Reading in chunks help children to copy quickly from the board. Struggling readers take too much time to write because they have to refer to the board after writing each word. These children may find it difficult to track what is written and they are also likely to miss the lines.

The use of Sentence Strips encourages children to read words together and make them efficient readers as well as efficient writers. Sentence Strips improves the fluency in reading and writing. From writing sentences, children can progress to writing paragraphs!

Sentence Strips helps children to understand how sentences are formed. This is an easier method than unscrambling the sentences usually carried out in the classrooms.Consider these two examples:

(a) posted/wrote / John / a / letter / it. / and

A struggling reader would find it difficult to unscramble this sentence.

Now consider the next example.

(b)a letter and/ John wrote / posted it.

A child with difficulty in reading is likely to find this example less challenging and she/he may more readily attempt unscrambling the sentence of the type shown in example b above.

Any activity involving reading or writing improves vocabulary and comprehension. Sentence Strips also improves the vocabulary of children and comprehension. In this activity, frequently used words are only included and children can master the usage of common words.

One problem with struggling readers is that they omit to start a sentence with a capital letter and they don’t use punctuation at the end of a sentence.Sentence Strips may help them to overcome this difficulty. The easiest way in which to join the strips to make a sentence is to see the strip beginning with a capital letter or a strip that end with punctuation.

Poor readers have difficulty in understanding the sequences involved in writing a sentence. Sentence Strips helps children become aware of the position of nouns, verbs, adjectives etc in a sentence. Thus children become aware of the sequences in a sentence. Practising Sentence Strips helps them to understand the use of conjunctions such as when, and, but etc. Sentences having ‘because’ indicate cause and effect.Children can get an idea of sequences in sentences. They may even be able to predict what comes next in a sentence.

  1. Reading in chunks: Struggling readers read word by word. They don’t read groups of words. Efficient readers read groups of words and this is called reading in chunks. Poor readers try to recognize each word and in this process they don’t get the meaning of sentences. Children with difficulty in reading may be encouraged to read in chunks so that they can make sense of what they read.
  2. Sentence Strips is an easy method to understand the patterns and the structure of the sentences.
  3. Sentence Strips improves vocabulary and comprehension.
  4. Emphasis on Capital letters at the beginning of a sentence and punctuation at the end.
  5. Sentence Strips makes children become more aware of sequences in sentences.

B. How is this game organized?

As mentioned above, a sentence is cut into three strips and the challenge is to join the three strips to make a sentence.

Levels in this game:

There are six levels in this game. Each level has 25 sentences. All the sentences are prepared keeping in mind children in classes from 1 to 5. As we progress from one level to the other, the complexity of sentences increases. The sentences become lengthier. Children with reading difficulty don’t understand the meaning of questions and this is one of the reasons why they don’t score well in tests. Many types of questions are included in all the levels.

Related Activities. Go to more activities using Sentence Strips.

  1. Sentence Strips: unscramble the two sentences (with colour clues)
  2. Sentence Strips: unscramble the two sentences (without colour clues)

This activity has six levels. The challenge is to unscramble the sentences.

Tips for parents:

  1. Use of capital letter and punctuation.

    Tell your child a sentence starts with a capital letter and it ends with punctuation. Children with learning difficulty have problems in using capital letters at the beginning of the sentence and often they don’t see punctuation. One remedial measure is to ask your child to raise the non-writing hand whenever a new sentence is written. This is a reminder to start the sentence with a capital letter. Other movements such as lifting a finger or touching the nose can be tried. Also make the child use punctuation in the sentence just completed before starting a new sentence. Reading aloud is a good remedy. The child is likely to continue reading without any regard for punctuation. Ask the child to take a pause at punctuations before continuing to read. Parents have to be extremely patient as not using capital letters and missing punctuations are not easy to remedy.

  2. Another remedial measure is to make the child circle all capital letters and punctuation marks in a paragraph. Newspapers are ideal for this purpose. Even a child studying in elementary level can use newspapers because they only have to spot capital letters and punctuation marks.

    Sentence strips may help children to reinforce their understanding of using a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence. This activity may also help your child to be aware of punctuations.

  3. Improve short term memory.

    Before attempting to answer the next question in this activity, ask the child to recall the sentence that had typed by joining the strips of the previous question. This kind of activity would improve your child’s short term memory. Short term memory or active memory is required for doing maths, following instructions, copying from the board etc. Recalling the sentences made by joining the strips is a good activity to improve the short term memory of your child.

  4. Sentences for dictation.

    The sentences used in this activity can be used for dictation. Or you can prepare sentences for dictation from the textbooks of your child.

  5. Activity of lengthening sentences.

    This is a good activity to improve the skill of your child to form sentences. Make the child lengthen the sentences by adding a word / or a group of words to the sentence.

  6. Some examples are given below.



    Sentences lengthened by adding a word/ a group of words


    He is my friend.

    He is my best friend.


    I watched a film.

    I watched a film yesterday.


    I watched a film yesterday.

    I watched a Hindi film yesterday.


    I watched a Hindi film yesterday.

    I watched a Hindi film on TV yesterday evening.


    He went to market.

    He went to market to buy vegetables.


    Where is the bag?

    Where is the blue bag?

    In fact, this is a good game you can play with your children. All the members of the family can participate in this game. And it can be played in any language.

    If you are not confident of making sentences in English you can use the internet. There are many sites which give examples of sentences.

  7. Mastery tests:

    The best way to learn is by teaching others. Your child can set questions to you. Encourage her/him to make Sentence Strips to test you. Occasionally, you can deliberately make mistakes so that your child can point out the mistakes you have made. Nothing gives more pleasure to the child than correcting you!

  8. Preparing questions to test you is a great revision for your child. When setting questions, the child masters the concepts behind the activity.

  1. Two excellent books on sentence patterns are:
    1. The Teaching of Structural Words and Sentence Patterns Stages I & II by A.S.Hornby, published by Oxford University Press.
    2. The Teaching of Structural Words and Sentence Patterns Stages III & IV by A.S.Hornby, published by Oxford University Press.
    3. If the above books are not available, then any good book dealing with sentence patterns can be bought.

  2. Grammar books
    1. Essential English Grammar -- A self-study reference and practice book for elementary students of English with answers, Raymond Murphy, published by Cambridge University Press
    2. Intermediate English Grammar Reference and Practice for South Asian Students with answers, Raymond Murphy, published by Cambridge University Press
    3. A Practical English Grammar by A. J .Thomson and A.V. Martinet published by Oxford University Press.
    4. Also buy the following four books which are based on, A Practical English Grammar. The advantage of the following books is that a large number of questions are provided for practice. Answers are provided for all the questions.

    1. A Practical English Grammar Exercises 1
    2. A Practical English Grammar Exercises 2
    3. A Practical English Grammar Structure Drills 1
    4. A Practical English Grammar Structure Drills 2