Have I mentioned that my daughter loves pretending to be a robot? See here. This is another activity where you can get your child to pretend to be a robot. In this activity, your child will be generating sentences with various restrictions. Your child is sure to exercise her creativity and imagination in this activity.
This activity is also a great opportunity to teach your child the different sentence types and the difference between grammar words (like a, the, and, of) and meaning words (like dog, building, walk, pretty).
Objective(s) of activity:
The objective of this lesson is to write out sentences with various restrictions, such as number of words and starting letter of words.
For younger children who are not as proficient in writing, you can skip the writing part and use this mainly as a speaking exercise.
Targeted age group:
Children from 6 – 12 can participate. Although 6 – 7 year old children may be better suited to do this activity as a speaking exercise.
Number of participants:
Any number of children can participate. If there is more than 1 child, you can conduct this activity as either a cooperative or competitive exercise.
This activity is simple. Your child has to write out a sentence on a piece of paper. However, the number of words that the sentence must have are determined by dice rolls.
The first step in the activity is for the child to roll a die.
Suppose your child rolls a four. This means that the child has to come up with a sentence that has four words and write it down which is where the writing aspect of this task comes in.
If you are carrying out this task as a speaking activity, the child only has to say out the sentence after coming up with it, without needing to write it down.
Eg. I like eating apples.
Although this is a simple activity, this activity can teach children about different types of sentences and even about the differences between grammar and meaning words.
Suppose you roll a 1. There is really only one type of sentence that can be formed in English that has one word. This type of sentence is called an imperative, otherwise known as commands.
At least in English, you need at least two words to form a declarative, which forms the main types of sentence type.
Eg. John slept.
The third major sentence type is an interrogative otherwise known as questions, which can either be yes-no questions or wh-questions.
Eg. Is the soup hot? Yes-No question
What did John eat? Wh-question
As should be clear, a yes-no question is one which asks for a yes or no response, while a wh-question is a question which has who, what, where, when, why and how.
You can mix the task up by asking your child to form a sentence of a particular type with the required number of words.
Another lesson you can impart from this activity is the difference between grammar and meaning words. In most sentences of English, you can find words that carry the main meaning and words that serve a grammatical function.
Eg. John is walking to the store.
In this sentence, ‘John’, ‘walking’ and ‘store’ are meaning words whereas ‘is’ ‘to’ and ‘the’ are grammar words.
One way to teach the difference between these two types of words is to restrict the word limit to just meaning words.
Suppose you roll 3 and this restriction only applies to meaning words. This means that the sentence ‘John is walking to the store’ is a possible answer because there are only three meaning words in the sentence.
If you want to read up more on the difference between grammar and meaning words, you can find many online resources. These words are also commonly called function (grammar) words and lexical (meaning) words.
Notes for scaling up difficulty:
One way to make this task more challenging for older kids is to also randomly select the actual letters that must be included in the sentence.
Suppose you roll 4 on the die. In this variant, not only must the sentence contain only four words, each word must also start with a pre-chosen letter. This choice happens after the die has been rolled
and must be random and can be repeated.
Eg. Die shows 4. Child chooses the letters A, D, U, H
A sentence that satisfies the rules of the activity: ‘A horse dived under’.
Another way to make the activity challenging is to have two dice that have to be rolled so that longer sentences have to be formed. If you do use two dice, then the shortest sentence that can be formed is 2 and the longest is 12.
Let me know in the comments what other ways you managed to tweak the exercise to keep your child interested!