A little randomness can go a long way of introducing a fun element into a relatively mundane task.
In this activity, your class will be generating sentences with a set number of words which is determined by dice rolls.
This activity is also a great opportunity to teach your class the difference 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 be the first one to write out sentences with various restrictions, such as number of words, and starting letter of words etc.
The students in your class have to write various sentences down. However, the number of words that the sentence has is determined by dice rolls.
Bring two dice to class and roll it. You can use online number generators as well.
Suppose the numbers are four and three for a total of seven.
This means that the class has to come up with a sentence that has seven words. The first student to write it down and offer it to you gets a point
Eg. I want to go to the market.
Although this is a simple activity, this activity can be used to teach your class about different types of sentences and even about the differences between grammar and meaning words.
Suppose you use just one dice and 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. The following has an intransitive verb.
Eg. John slept.
The third major sentence type is an interrogative or simply a question, 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 with who, what, where, when, why and how.
You can bring variety to the exercise by asking your class to not only form a sentence with the required number of words but also require the sentence to be of a particular type (i.e, command, declarative or question).
Another lesson you can impart from this lesson 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.
If you want to teach the difference between these two types of words, you can restrict the word limit to just meaning words.
Suppose you roll 3 on the dice with this restriction only applying to meaning words. This would mean that the sentence ‘John is walking to the store’ is a possible option because there are only three meaning words in the sentence.
Notes for scaling up difficulty:
One way to make this task more challenging 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. One student chooses the letters A, D, U, H
A sentence that satisfies the rules of the activity: ‘A horse dived under’.
Let me know in the comments how your students liked this activity!