Parts of a sentence activities: more than parts of sentence worksheets. Identify parts of a sentence with students!
You can (and will) identify parts of a sentence with your students in meaningful ways.
Students will probably work have varying abilities to work with parts of a sentence. For instance, my older students recognize subject and predicate (they can draw a line to separate the two), so I don’t spend much time on a subject and predicate lesson. When I taught middle school, we did review subjects and predicates.
Because everyone’s understandings vary, my parts of a sentence practice will include worksheets, coloring sheets, station work, or grammar manipulatives. Below, I am providing ideas for a basic subject and predicate lesson plan and branching from there. Hopefully, you can take these examples, make them your own, and add your own twist.
Before I dive into the activities, let me acknowledge: Everyone labels “parts of a sentence” differently. When I reference parts of a sentence, I am referencing:
- direct object
- indirect object
- object complement
- predicate noun
- predicate pronoun
- predicate adjective
- object of the preposition
I know some teachers use “predicate word” or “subject complement.” For ease as I write this, the above list is what I will reference. Teaching subject and predicate is the start, and then we move to the more complex pieces with parts of a sentence practice. You can use terms your school district uses and still identify parts of a sentence within your classes.
Typically, teachers create a parts of a sentence lesson plan for younger students. We secondary teachers often need to review the concepts though. When I work through parts of a sentence activities, normally during the second quarter of school, I have built relationships with students and understand their strengths with grammar. Therefore, my presentation always differs. Overall, here is a peek at my teaching the parts of the sentence.
Parts of a sentence lesson plan: prior knowledge
First, I consider what my students know. Doing this allows me to encourage students with their understanding of our language. Students normally learn parts of a sentence in middle school. A quick subject and predicate lesson plan can be a five minute review. You might need a fast subject, predicate, object worksheet too.
Still, my freshmen do not have a firm grasp where we can continue to phrases and clauses. Higher level grammar hinges on students at least being able to identify a sentence’s subject and verb. (This free digital activity will help you gather data to see where to start your lessons.) Second, I plan my parts of a sentence lesson plan based off that data.
Third, I explain to students why we will use these terms. When students eliminate passive voice or create powerful verbs in their writing, they will need to identify the subject and verb. Students should find the subjects and verbs of their sentences so that they write complete sentences.
Fourth, I teach parts of a sentence after teaching parts of speech. When I have classes that do incredibly well on pretests, we will use these terms together. For instance, when we discuss nouns, we’ll also talk about predicate nouns and subjects. I don’t draw a hard line of grammar “units.” My students have heard these terms previously.
Methods with parts of a sentence activities
Sure, parts of sentence worksheets can clarify confusing parts and activate prior knowledge. Before we advance with parts of a sentence practice, I remind students they know some of this; they have all drawn a line between the subject and predicate. Build off that prior knowledge into your parts of a sentence lesson plan. Here are some talking points for teaching the parts of the sentence.
The bird tweeted.
Draw a line between “bird” and “tweeted.” I like to add phrases and modifiers to show students that the subject and verb are unchanging—AND that they can still identify the subject and verb. Build confidence as students identify parts of a sentence.
The tiny bird in the tree tweeted a pretty song.
I play around with that for a few minutes because I have found that the more I emphasize that students already understand this concept, the more willing they are to learn the rest.
Then, I teach prepositional phrases and objects of the preposition. I KNOW that this is probably not “parts of a sentence” material, but in my experience, this is the best time to introduce prepositional phrases. Subjects, verbs, direct objects… they will never be in prepositional phrases. It helps to reassure students of that.
I spend at least one class period emphasizing subjects and verbs AND eliminating prepositional phrases. The rest of the week (and probably the following week) will be spent with direct objects, indirect objects, and object complements. As you manipulate and study sentences, try to connect these parts to what students read and write.
When students understand action verbs and their objects, I introduce linking verbs to cover predicate nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. This application allows for fun parts of a sentence practice. Even if we are working through parts of sentence worksheets, I add dashes of goofy!
I start with a list of linking verbs: is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been. That list sing-songs itself, and I repeat it numerous times.
Next, I introduce other verbs that can be linking verbs: appear, become, feel, grow, look, remain, seem, smell, sound, stay, taste, and turn. How do I teach these?
I act out the verbs. Yes, my students laugh at me and more than likely, make fun of me outside of class. I’m good with it! For instance… appear.
The desk appears clean.
Ok—show students a desk. The desk isn’t doing anything—the desk’s state of being is that it is clean. Name every object in the room and connect a predicate adjective to it. These objects just exist, and a predicate adjective describes them. Finally, act out a verb.
Mrs. Moss appeared on stage.
Ta-da! I walk out on my “stage” (the classroom), showing students that I am appearing on my teaching stage. That is how you can differentiate between an action verb and a linking verb.
Want super-charged engagement? Ask students to give you verbs, and yep, act them out. They will remember that grammar lesson.
Finally, as we continue with action and linking verbs combined (and the other parts of a sentence), I keep acting out verbs so students can understand the differences.
Ask students to act out a linking verb! They can’t. More than likely, they will be acting out the predicate word, not the verb. The physical acting of sentence pieces is memorable for parts of a sentence activities.
Work on Identification and Writing
We write sentences to practice sentence structure. I love to create goofy and relationship-building paragraphs with students. I share details of my life that I’m comfortable sharing with my students. We often write about my dog, my book collection, and clumsy nature. I’ve found that sharing writing while applying grammar not only makes lessons fun, but it also become a community building exercise.
I do use parts of sentence worksheets, grammar stations, and color by grammar to practice. The direct instruction reinforces the terms and definitions!
Then, when students need hands-on practice, I set up grammar manipulatives to practice sentence creation. Then, we identify parts of a sentence together as they create.
I do not have a specific lesson for dictionary use because I incorporate that process into whatever vocabulary lesson we currently have. You can use any verb in the dictionary to explain the terminology, though.
Begin Application and Evaluation
Apply the knowledge of grammar lessons to other areas of class. For example, if we read a short story, I’ll assign students to find five subjects from the story. I’ll ask students to evaluate an author’s verb choice. In their own writing, students will highlight prepositional phrases to check for frequently and proper punctuation.
I don’t stop talking about parts of speech, the previous unit. For instance I will say, I know you’ve covered subjects before, but when we talk about verb voice and types of sentences, you need to find the subject, and the subject is often a noun. I also make it a point to mention if an author uses an abundance of inverted sentence styles.
Meaningful grammar lessons take years of crafting and layering with meaning. Don’t get discouraged if they don’t work immediately. Continue to identify parts of a sentence with students.
The more comfortable you become with these lessons, the more your parts of a sentence activities will be integrated into the rest of your lessons.
Hands-on grammar activities
If acting out grammar isn’t enough activity, try a few more interactive ideas. I love using stations with older students because I can focus on individual groups. Plus, the stations can target areas that need practice. For instance, I might use pre-made stations, but I also might add student writing, a coloring activity, or hands-on grammar.
What is hands-on grammar? I frequently use hands-on grammar or grammar manipulations. Simply print out words for students to practice sentence building. (You can also make batches of sticky notes or adhere words on blocks.) With your manipulations, be sure to have a variety of verbs, ones that take direct objects, indirect objects, and predicate words. As we study parts of a sentence, I begin working on parallelism and punctuation. Students enjoy manipulating and building goofy sentences. As students finish their sentences, take pictures and create a presentation of the class’s hard work.
I’ve also seen teachers adhere the hands-on pieces to magnets so that students can rearrange the pieces in a casual way.
Over the years, I’ve developed a variety of tools (for differentiation, variety, types of learners, and such) for teaching the parts of a sentence. The activities I described above are successful pieces of my parts of a sentence lesson plan and although some of them are a bit unconventional, I do have success with them.
Often, my desire to teach more than parts of sentence worksheets leads me to quirky ideas—which I’ve shared above! You’ll find your own methods and twists on your own parts of a sentence lesson plan. Soon, you’ll love teaching parts of a sentence as I do.
Lastly, if you need more ideas for using subject and predicate worksheets (middle school) and an engaging parts of a sentence practice, check out Grammar Gurus. My private Facebook group provides an open space for teachers to discuss grammar.