By the second grade, your students will most probably have learned initial exercises in sentence-writing from their first grade lessons. It is important to note that second graders are generally working on their decoding skills and how to use syntactic knowledge, or awareness of sentence structures–specifically in writing sentences. Second grade students will benefit from meaningful writing activities that allow them to make meaning out of sentence structures that they use and are presented with.
Start with a game.
Word Soup time! Tell your students that with you are several small round containers (one for each student) that contain strips of words (maximum of five words). Their task is to arrange these words to form a sentence. The first one who forms a sentence wins a special prize. Once the winner is identified, have everyone paste their sentences on the board using pre-cut masking tapes you prepared.
Review on Nouns and Verbs
Have everyone read all the sentences aloud. Then, zero in on the winning sentence and ask them what the sentence is about. The students will most probably answer the subject of the sentence, which you will underline. Then, ask, "What about it?" The students will answer the verb in the sentences, which you will encircle. In this way, you launch a review of nouns and verbs and where they are located in a sentence. Ask volunteers to paste pre-cut "subject" and "verb" labels on the board where they are appropriate. Guide them accordingly.
After the activity above, gather everyone in a circle. Be sure to tell them to bring their writing pads and pencils with them. When inside the circle, tell them that they are to write their own sentences using the words that are found in two boxes in the middle of the circle–one box for the subjects, the other for the verbs. They are to approach the boxes in two's and examine the words for one minute. They should write down their sentences on their writing pads.
After everyone has done writing their sentences, bring out a red rubber ball. Lead everyone to sing their favorite nursery rhyme or class song while passing on the ball around. Once the teacher says, "Stop!" the student who currently holds the ball will read aloud his/her written sentence. Continue the passing of the ball using various rhymes and songs until everyone has finished sharing his/her sentence. Meanwhile, the teacher writes down the students' sentences on the board.
After the activity, everyone then goes back to his/her seat and together, read all the sentences that the class came up with. The teacher will call out the writers of each sentence to tell everyone where the subject and the verb is.
Decoding skills involve graphophonemic, semantic, and syntactic abilities on the part of the student reader. Teaching them syntax through basic sentence structure is most effective in action–writing sentences. Second graders are not that hard to motivate, as long as the classroom activities designed by the teacher are tasks that they actually experience and get praise from, and not just monotonous, routinized writing that will quickly kill their interest in literacy.