Sentence Games

Some activities to play with sentences.
Original sentence: She ate a sandwich

01 Dictate
Dictate the sentence in various ways

02 Blank
She ate a _____.
Students write what they think is the answer you have on your paper.

03 Change
Change the words in the original sentence to make a completely new sentence.
She ate a sandwich could become He ran a marathon.

04 Expand
Add more words to the original sentence to make it more interesting. A focus on adjectives and adverbs maybe.
She slowly ate a delicious, leftover chicken sandwich on the sofa by the Christmas tree.

05 Shrink
Remove words one at a time from the sentence to make it as simple as possible.
She slowly ate a delicious, leftover chicken sandwich on the sofa by the Christmas tree. Becomes A sandwich.

06 Opposite
Write the exact opposite of the sentence:
He didn't eat a lot of soup...

07 Correct?
She didn't ate a sandwich.
Decide if the sentence is grammatically correct or not?

08 Message
Present the first letters of each word of the sentence.

S___ A___ A___ S___

Can you come up with another grammatically correct sentence?
Sometimes animals are scary or... She ate a sandwich. 

09 Grammar Sketch
On one side of a small piece of paper students write the sentence:
She ate a sandwich
On the other side reveal the artist within them and get them to draw the sentence. Now you have a flashcard.

010 What's the sentence?

Similar to hangman. Students guess missing words rather than letters. First letters could be given when frustration sets in.

She ___ a ____

11 Remove

The following sentence has had one particular vowel removed.
Can you work it out?

shetesndwich

Crazes / Challenges

Here are 5 recent crazes / challenges

01 The Ice Bucket Challenge

02 The Crossbar Challenge
03 Bottle Flip Challenge
04 The Mannequin Challenge
05 24 Hour No Speaking Challenge

First, talk about each challenge

Have you done them?
What is your opinion of them?

Then, think about which one is your favourite.


Further thinking: the most difficult or easiest / most dangerous.

Dictation

Dictation is a good skill for listening and reviewing language recently studied. Here are some activities:

01 A Word Order Dictation


a) Dictate a sentence in the wrong order.

b) Ask them to rewrite it in the correct order.

02 A Spelling Dictation


Dictate a sentence 3 letters at a time. So for the sentence: I have to go to school. I would dictate it in the following manner, pausing briefly for a slash.


I H A / V E T / O G O / T O S / C H O / OL


They write down the letters, some will get in a muddle, some may hold their head in despair but others will begin to see the sentence and start guessing what the completed sentence will be.


03 A Bad Dictation


Dictate a sentence with errors. Can they see the errors?


04 A Sentence Stem Dictation


Dictate the start of a sentence and let the learners finish it as they like.

05 A Long Sentence Dictation


Dictate a long sentence of about 20 words twice. When you have finished, and only when you have finished, students write what they remember. Dictate a third time if needed but no writing when you speak.


06 A Flash Dictation


Instead of listening, present a long sentence on the whiteboard for a minute before removing it. See if learners can recreate it.


07 A Draw The Sentence Dictation

a) Dictate a sentence

b) The learners don't write the sentence but draw it.
c) Do about 6 sentences.
d) When they have finished the 6 drawings get them to try and remember the sentences and write them next to the pictures they have drawn.

08 Category Dictation

Choose the language you want to review and devise a way of categorising it into two (or more) categories.
e.g.
love / like / don't like / hate
jobs inside / jobs outside


09 A Composition Dictation

Use sentences written by students about daily life or something completely random. Collect and improvise a story from their sentences which they copy down as a dictation the same class or another class.

10 A Picture Dictation (three variations)

a) The Teacher dictates a picture to all students and they draw what is being said.
b) All students dictate the same picture to one student drawing at the board
(a hands up scenario)
c) Students dictate pictures to each other in pairs.

When they have some sentences maybe you could play some sentence games.

Alternating

Speaking activities in pairs, groups or around the class:

1) Students tell a story saying one word each

2) Students tell a story saying two words each (and so on)

3) Students say a word each, but each time repeating the whole sentence:

Student A: I
Student B: I went
Student C: I went to
Student A: I went to the
Student B: I went to the beach.

4) Proverbs / Advice
Sentences starting with always or never.

Student A: Always
Student B: listen
Student A: to
Student B: your
Student A: cat

5) The Fortune Teller (with Two Heads)
Two students are fortune tellers. Other students ask them questions about the future. The Fortune tellers answers the question one word at a time per student.

Question: Where will I live?
Student A: You
Student B: will
Student A: live
Student B: on
Student A: the
Student B: moon

6) The Experts
It turns out (it is decided) two students are the experts in something.
For example they are experts in cooking, video games, The Internet, fish, space, stars, dreams, the future...

Invite the class to ask questions that they'd like to know about the subject.

The experts respond to the questions as they wish.

Question: What is the biggest fish in the world?
Student A: Well
Student B: The
Student A: Biggest
Student B: Fish
Student A: In
Student B: The

and so on...

7) Fortunately / Unfortunately
In pairs / groups or around the class students have a conversation alternating between Fortunately and Unfortunately.

Teacher can provide a first sentence to begin
(e.g. Fortunately I had no homework today.)
Next student says something unfortunate
(e.g. Unfortunately, my mum made me study anyway).
Next student states a fortunate event
(e.g., Fortunately, I was studying on the computer so I could go on Facebook)

and so on...

If we didn't have...

If we didn’t have ____

How would life be different?

You could do this with 5 random nouns
Talk about each one and why life would be different if we didn't have it.

Then, think about which one would make the biggest difference to life, if we didn't have it.

Rather

1) Would you rather?

What would you rather happen? Justify your answer.

Would you rather be a door or a window?
Would you rather be a ghost or a monster?
Would you rather win the lottery or invent something successful?
Would you rather be smart or popular?
Would you rather be single and famous or have a family?
Would you rather be water or fire?
Would you rather have €100 now or €200 this time next year
Would you rather live without Snapchat or Instagram
Would you rather live without sweets or TV?
Would you rather have bad breath or smelly feet?
Would you rather spend a week in the 1980's or the 1880's?
Would you rather be a soldier or a sailor?

2) I would rather...

Student A asks a simple question.

A: Do you want to go the cinema tonight?

Student B answers in a way suggesting its the last thing they want to do.

B: Id rather stay at home and read the dictionary. / I'd rather take my clothes off and dance in the main square. etc..

Riddles

Riddles to get students thinking.

01 Which month has 28 days?

02 Which letter of the alphabet has the most water in it?

03 What has a face and two hands but no arms or legs?

04 What has to be broken before you can use it?

05 Why is number 6 afraid?

06 A cowboy rode into town on Friday, stayed three days, and left 
on Friday. How is this possible?

07 Do you know where horses go when they are ill?

08 Which room has no doors or windows?

09 Jamie's mother had three children. The first child was called April. The second child was called May. What was the name of the third child?

10 Before Mount Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain?

11 Which is correct: The yolk of the egg is white or The yolk of the egg are white?

Answers:

01 All of them have 28 days
02 C
03 A Clock
04 An Egg
05 Because 7 8 9
06 His horse is called Friday
07 A Horsepital
08 A Mushroom
09 Jamie
10 Mount Everest
11 Neither. The yolk is yellow.

An Alliterative Sentence

Elicit a random word from the class. They must use this as an inspiration to write a sentence using alliteration.

An example


Neighbour: Nell's nosey neighbour never noticed her new necklace


Rules:

Only one proper noun allowed.
Not every word has to start with the same letter.
You could just offer a starting letter instead of a random word.
Take your time.

1 to 7

Writers are presented with a word.

e.g desk

They must now write a sentence underneath of two words and then three words and so on up to seven resulting in perhaps something poetic or unexpected. I suppose there is scope to insist on it being in the past or future at some point if you wanted a grammar focus.

Here is my effort that I demonstrated in the class.

1) Desk
2) to study
3) I hate studying
4) It is so boring
5) I prefer to eat pizza
6) and eat it on my desk
7) Pizza is what I want to study.

Random, Relevant Recycling.

In this activity we recycle vocabulary / word forms that have come up in class recently and make them more relevant or suited to our interests. We end up with a lot of sentences to play with or use in future classes.

Here are some words that have come up in class with my 10-12 year olds:

shouldn't, never, famous, successful, must, ugly, outdoors, between, flood

I asked them to write sentences about the town we live in.
Here are some of their examples:

San Fernando is between Chiclana and Cádiz.
The famous singer Camarón was born here. Some other successful artists live here.
San Fernando is famous...
but you shouldn't go to the duck park because it's ugly (not)
The town is ugly.
San Fernando has never had a skyscraper.
It never snows here.
You shouldn't live here because there is going to be a tsunami.
In 1919 there was a flood
I have never seen a turtle in the streets
You shouldn't throw seeds in the street - 90% of the town is seeds.
The cinema is between a sweet shop and a bizarre.
What does outdoors mean?
I never speak Spanish in the English academy
San Fernando must have three or four hotels
In my dreams SF is fantastic.
You shouldn't follow the clouds, you could fall

I have also done it with my FCE class for word formation. (UOE part 3)

African, variety, impolite, overcome, golden, depth, ideally, fascinating, observation, risky.

There are a variety of restaurants in town.
Ideally I would live somewhere else.
Some people in this town are impolite.
The Africans who live here have deep religious beliefs.
The sunsets here are golden.

Question Time

Select a topic, for example reading. Students then construct questions related to that topic using prompts as in the first image. They could write the questions, or could ask the teacher before then asking each other.

Next, in the second image, they could ask the question that is right for the answer.

Both of these slides could be played as the tic tac toe (Os and Xs) game.




Last & First

1) Word chain game

In pairs or around the class. The last letter of the word is the first letter of the new word: cat tree english happy

Some constraints to use in the game:

Words must be three letters long: dog gun new why yes shy you use...
Words must be four letters long: long give each have easy your race...
Words must be five letters long and the middle letter is the first letter of the next word: knock order drive input peace...

Some rules: no plurals or names.

2) Sentence chain game

Somebody says a sentence and the last word of the sentence is the first word of the next sentence. Quite often it's a strange word to start a sentence but it challenges the student to be creative. Higher levels best.

Have a look at the example below...

So one person says a few words
Words are what make sentences
sentences finish with a full stop
STOP! you've broken it!
it is time to go to bed
bed, lamp, wardrobe are things in my bedroom

and so on around the class or in pairs.

Fact. Opinion. False.

A thinking activity.

01 Check that the class can differentiate between something that is a fact, an opinion and something false.

02 Present the following sentences to the students and ask them to say if they are fact (true), opinion or false.

1.The cat is an animal.
2 Cats see in black and white.
3 Chocolate can be toxic to cats.
Everybody likes cats.
Cats are in the same family as Lions and tigers.
6 Cats are nocturnal.
Cats have more teeth than dogs.
8 Seeing a black cat on a Saturday brings good luck.
9 Cats always land on their feet.
10 When people see a cat, they want to touch it.

1 fact
2 false
3 fact
4 opinion
5 fact
6 fact
7 false
8 opinion
9 false
10 opinion

03 As a follow up activity ask the students to create one fact, false and opinion sentence about an animal that they like.

04 Everyone reads out their sentences and as a class we decided if they are fact, opinion or false.

7 to 1

7 to 1 is a 7 line dialogue with the first line being 7 words down to the last line being 1 word.

This activity makes students think about the structure of sentences and how to make it fit rather than just writing. It can also be very funny when they read them back.

In class recently we were looking at requests and permissions so I asked them to imagine they are speaking with their parents and I provided the first line.

A: Can I go to the cinema tonight?
B: You must do your homework tonight
A: I will do it tomorrow
B: You always say that!
A: Now, It's true!
B: Ok, go.
A: Thanks.

A: Can I go to the cinema tonight?
B: No, you can't do that tonight.
A: Why can't I go tonight?
B: Because it's very late
A: Oh come on!
B: I'm sorry
A: Stupid.

A: Can I go to the cinema tonight?
B: No, you have to stay here
A: I want to go, please!
B: Ask your dad then
A: He said yes
B: OK then
A: Thanks!

Alternative Proverbs

1) Ask the group: What is a proverb? Do you know any in your own language?

2) Display (or dictate) the first part of some English proverbs. Ask the group to try and complete them. 

3) Make a note of some of the more creative answers before revealing the correct ones.

Here are my classes guesses / alternative proverbs:


All good things must... happen.

Better late than... dirty.

If it isn't broken... use it.

If you can't beat them... confuse them.


You can't teach an old dog... maths.

Knowledge is... nature.

Sleep ...is the best medicine.

No man is a... ghost.

Practice makes... humanity.

The early bird... doesn't have a life.

The grass is always... growing.

The pen is mightier than... the pencil.

Time is... over.

Too many cooks... too much food.

You can take a horse to water... but you'll get wet.

Children should be seen and not... eaten.

Where there's smoke there's... drugs.

You can't always get... popcorn in the cinema.


4) Recycle the original proverbs with some games

The Bomb

For this game you need a countdown timer that makes a sound when it has finished. As the timer is counting down - hide it. Now, you can revise any number of possibilities going around the class from student to student. For example: vocabulary sets, things you do on the beach / at school etc. or word chain games all with the lingering tension that when the timer goes off the person whose turn it is currently...

IS OUT.

You could use an interval timer online so the timer keeps going but goes off at different times.

I Wonder

Complete one of the following sentences:

I wonder if...
I wonder wh__....
I wonder how...

If you are not sure what to wonder about use some of the following topics:

e.g. English | Tomorrow | Space | The Sea | School | Trees

Here are some of my students ideas:

I wonder why I need to learn English.
I wonder if in the future we will have to go to school.
I wonder what will happen in the future.
I wonder if somebody will invent the future machine.
I wonder if space finishes.
I wonder if space is rainbow colours.
I wonder what would happen if space didn't exist.
I wonder if trees can talk with me.
I wonder if trees will live in space.
I wonder why my creativity is the best.
I wonder why donuts are delicious.
I wonder why taxis in New York are yellow.

Normal Questions. Unusual Answers.

I asked students to complete these questions. We wrote them on the board.

How far...
How often...
When...
How much...
Who...
Which...
What...
Where..

e.g.
How far is it to Madrid?
Who are you?
What are you doing this weekend?
Where were you born?

They then had to answer the questions but using any of the following 10 random words in the answer.

head giraffe hats handbag daisy sun balloon comic holiday handkerchief

Some answers were:

It is 10,000 Giraffes to Madrid
I am the sun
This weekend I am going to buy a balloon.
I was born in a handbag.

Problems & Solutions

On the board write the word problems.
Elicit from the class some problems.
Some examples that came up in my classes:
Trump, Exams, Pollution, Tsunamis, Tiredness, Bullying
I wrote these words up on the board and then in groups asked them to come up with two or three solutions to each problem.
We then talked over each one as a class.

Birthday

Choose 5 random words (things / objects)

frog
snow
dinner
kitten
ketchup

First talk together about why they would be good or bad birthday presents for a a friend.

Then decide on the best.