Unscramble the Sentences

Unscrambling sentences is a widely used method to teach children the structure of sentences. Struggling readers find it difficult to understand the sequences of words in a sentence. This comes in the way of comprehending what they read. Poor understanding of sentence structures also makes them poor in memorizing what is read because they are not able to organize or summarize what they have read.What they read doesn’t get stored in their long term memory and therefore they can’t recall or remember what they had read.Learning to unscramble sentences helps poor readers to be better readers, writers, and helps them to be better organized in storing information.

The benefits of this activity, Unscramble the Sentence, are listed below.

  1. Unscramble the Sentence is a good activity to understand the patterns, sequences and structure of sentences.

    This activity helps children to understand patterns in a sentence. Almost all the sentences used in this activity are in active voice. The subject (the person who does the action or about whom we are talking about) comes first. What the subject does (verb) comes next in the sentence. We describe (adjective) the subject or other objects (nouns). Then there are – adverb, pronoun, preposition etc. A good grasp of usage of parts of speech is required to write good sentences. The sequence in which these appear is to be understood. Some struggling readers fail to understand the sequence of words. Children should also know the use of singular verbs. They should learn about tenses. This activity helps them to learn the basics of grammar. A good knowledge of sentence structure helps students to predict what comes next. They can become fluent readers and writers.

  2. Emphasis on Capital letters at the beginning of a sentence and punctuation at the end.

    Struggling readers often omit to start a sentence with a capital letter and they don’t use punctuation at the end of a sentence.Capital letter and punctuation are clues for unscrambling the sentences. The child is likely to be more aware of the use of capital letter and punctuation marks. This may be a good remedial measure for those who fail to use capital letters and punctuation.

  3. Improvement in vocabulary and comprehension.

    Any activity involving reading or writing improves vocabulary and comprehension. This activity also improves the vocabulary and comprehension of children. In this activity, frequently used words are only included and children can become familiar with commonly used words.

This activity has six sections. The challenge is to unscramble the sentences. Give your child more practice. The sentences can be taken from the child’s text books, story books, or you can make your own sentences. Search the net for sentence examples. You can get a variety of sentences from the net.

Tips for parents:

Translation work is rarely used at home to teach children English. Peculiarities of English can be better understood by comparing English with your mother tongue. Whether we admit it or not, silent translation is going on in our brain from mother tongue to English and from English to mother tongue.

Use translation activity at home. Dictate daily ten sentences in your mother tongue and make your child translate them to English. The child can also be made to translate sentences in English to mother tongue. Usage of has and have; does and do cause enormous confusion. In English, both singular and plural verbs are used with ‘I’. Example: I have and I was. It is difficult for the child to understand the usage of you in English. The verb used with ‘you’ is always plural. Example: You are, You have. We teach the children to use singular verb with singular subject ( he, she, it ) . We use She has or she eats. But with does we use plural verb. Example: Does he have . . ..? Does he eat . . . . .? All these cause confusion to the child.

Compare the structure of sentences in mother tongue with the structure of sentences in English. This would help your child.

  1. Use of capital letter and punctuation. Tell your child that a sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with punctuation. This helps the child to identify the head and tail of the sentence. Once this is done, then the challenge is to rearrange the remaining words to make a sentence. Make them aware of the need to use capital letters and punctuation.
  2. Teach your child parts of speech. Your child can be a better reader and writer if she/ he is aware of the parts of speech. A thorough understanding of what is noun, adjective, verb and adverb helps the child to use language purposefully. This would also make her/him understand the sequence of parts of speech in a sentence.
  3. Teach your child tenses. Correct use of tenses is required for effective communication. Children use tenses correctly when speaking or writing in their mother tongue. But they get confused about the use of tenses when using English. A mismatch of tenses is a common mistake made by children learning English as a foreign language. Spend time with your children to make them proficient in the use of tenses.
  4. Teach the peculiarities of English through the use of translation from the mother tongue to English and from English to the mother tongue.
  5. Use dictionaries. English is a universal language and expertise in English is required to do well in higher studies and to get well paying jobs. A good dictionary is a must to teach children English. Initially, children can use pocket dictionaries. But parents can start using dictionaries meant for advanced students.
    1. Pocket/ Advanced English dictionary.
    2. Mother tongue dictionary with meanings in English also.
    3. English to mother tongue dictionary.

      The use of a mother tongue to mother tongue dictionary improves the vocabulary and comprehension of your children. Struggling readers have poor vocabulary and comprehension skills. You can prepare a list of 1000 commonly used words. The word list can have nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Commonly used nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs can be accessed from the internet. Have the list in both English and the mother tongue. You can quiz your child: What do we say for _____ in English? Or what do we say for _____ in mother tongue?

      These can be oral activities. Writing these down would take time. Also a lot of words can be covered in an oral activity in a limited time. Ask the children to tell sentences using these words. If you are teaching the word, intelligent (adjective) talk about intelligence (noun) and intelligently (adverb).

  6. Mastery activity: Have your child prepare tests for you! Let her/ him correct your answers.

The internet has many exercises on unscrambling sentences.