How to Teach Sentence Writing in Primary (K-2)

how to teach sentence writing


Post Promise: Are you fretting over how to get your little learners writing complete sentences? In today’s piece, I’ll give you an easy to implement strategy that you can use to help your Primary students (K-2) master simple sentence writing. Don’t miss the FREE Sentence-Writing TOOL KIT at the end of the post that can help you get your kids started as soon as today.

how to teach sentence writing

See my FB LIVE Mini-Training about Sentence Writing!

Sentence Writing as a MILESTONE

If you are here reading this, you must be searching for sentence writing activities and strategies to use with your students to help them transform from word-writers to sentence-writers. Whew! Do you know how big of a deal that is? (Of course you do, you’re a teacher. ❤) They are about to reach a major MILESTONE thanks to you. Just as writing CVC words is a big transition from letters/sounds to WORDS, this leap is also one you should be celebrating!

sentence writing milestone

Before you get buried in “how to teach sentence writing,” take a look at your accomplishments. Milestones like this are a great time for YOU to reflect back on your journey so far this school year. I sincerely hope that you take a moment to realize how you’ve moved these students to this point. If you believe they are ready to write sentences, I know you’ve worked hard to get them here. This is a HUGE breakthrough in a child’s life and you are their heroic guide. Way to go, Teacher!  

how to teach sentence writing

When are students ready to learn how to write sentences?

when how to teach sentence writing

So, you’re about to jump over a huge hurdle here, but let’s make sure that when you do implement sentence-writing in your classroom, your kids are ready for it.   There are a lot of pre-requisite skills we’d like to have in place before we ever expect a student to write a complete sentence independently. I personally embed these skills in my teaching all year so students have schema to attach sentence-writing skills to.

  • Concept of spoken word (phonological awareness)
  • Word segmenting & blending (phonological awareness)
  • Writing CVC Words (your sentences should include these)
  • Punctuation understanding (what each mark is for and when to use them)
  • Some sight-word I.D. (start with the easiest words)
  • Word Wall skills (locating a  sight-word in an alphabetical list)

What if my students don’t have these skills? If the majority of your students don’t have a firm foundation here, aim at these targets before you implement the whole-group sentence-writing routine I mention below. Don’t try to build a house on top of sinking sand. Just focus your greatest attention on foundation skills first and all the rest will come when your students are better prepared.

foundational skills teaching

As I mentioned in a recent post about Word Families.. Phonological Awareness is essential in everything we teach in Primary Reading. If you are lacking in this area, this would be a great time for you to implement a daily phonological awareness routine like Word Works Daily.

Dictated Sentences for the Win!

Sentence writing in Primary truly sounds like a daunting, difficult task to us teachers. Teaching this skill almost seems as meticulous as a high-stakes  brain surgery- so many things could go wrong and there are  so many little people to monitor for understanding, growth and progress. Eeek!

You can win at this though, friend. Dictated sentences are going to lead you to victory! You will be brain-surgeon of the year when you pull this easy sentence-writing tool out of your lab coat. (OK, enough with the surgeon analogies. We know that job is much easier than ours anyway🤪.)

What are dictated sentences?

what are dictated sentences

Simply put, Dictated sentences are pre-written sentences that you say out loud and expect your students to write down with correct form. Students take the audio from your mouth and transform it into written text on their paper. For example, if you say “I see a cat!” students write it down, using their understanding of sentence-semantics and phonics to form it correctly.

what are dictated sentneces

What are the benefits of using dictated sentences?

Dictated sentences sound simple but hold  a LANDMINE of benefits. Among the benefits you’ll find from continued use are:

  • Improved word discrimination (counting),
  • Heightened listening skills
  • Improved encoding capabilities
  • Enhanced reading fluency
  • Enriched sentence formation using correct:
    • Spelling
    • Spacing
    • Capital/lowercase letter use
    • Punctuation use
    • Proof-reading

How to use dictated sentences?

You can use this power-tool any way you’d like- the sky is the limit.  A lot of educators use it in a small-group setting and during guided reading. Personally, I do use them in that way early in the school year for my higher-leveled students, but I really enjoy to using them whole-group once the majority of my students have the capability to be successful in this area. I created a routine to help me accomplish whole-group dictated sentence writing that only takes 10 minutes of my morning. Here is a video of my routine.

Watch a complete Sentence-Writing Routine DEMO

Although this video features my full Daily Write-It Simple Sentences Product- watching this will help you understand the process.

Create your own Dictated Sentence Routine

Y’all know I’m a sucker for a great classroom learning routine- so of course I have created a routine just for the purpose of writing sentences! Now that you know the benefits, I hope you’re ready to get your own sentence routine started too. Here’s the best part: It’s so simple!  To make the steps easier to understand, be sure to check out the video of my routine above.

Step 1: Block a time-slot in your schedule to complete the activity.

A solid dictated sentence writing routine should only take about 10 minutes from start to finish. So, decide what time of your day you’ll get it done (morning is best) and get it in writing.  If you do, you’ll be more likely to get the job done each day- plus your students will hold you accountable once you practice the procedure a few times.

Step 2: Gather your materials!

Decide what you’ll use during this time and how your students will have access to these materials. As you can see in my routine, students use laminated file folders and dry erase marekrs. I have these stored at their desks for easy. I use a visual cue (on the smartboard) to help my students as well, but all you truly need to implement a working sentence-writing routine is:

  • A list of dictated sentences
  • Student Writing Paper w/ a self-check area (place in sheet protectors for re-use!)
  • Writing Tools (I prefer dry-erase markers to make correction easy.)  

I couldn’t dare give you all this info without some help to get you started, so I have included a FREE Sentence-Writing Tool Kit that has both of these items included. You can grab it down below. <3

Step 3: Teach students the procedure of the lesson.

Explain and practice this procedure until it becomes routine. Your procedure may look like this:

  • You say the sentence
  • Have students repeat
  • Discuss parts of the sentence (punctuation, capital letter, how many words)
  • Students write the sentence
  • During writing time, you circulate to provide support and guidance.
  • Finally, you model the proficient sentence and give students time to correct their own.

Get your FREE Sentence-Writing Tool Kit HERE!

Ready to get those little people writing? I hope you find this tool to be effective and easy to use. Just add your name and email to this form and I will send it to your inbox straight away. If you don’t see it in your regular inbox, be sure to check your SPAM folder.

Want more from your Sentence-Writing Routine?

I have a complete product dedicated to helping you guide your students into sentence writing mastery. Check out my Daily-Write It Simple Sentences Pack HERE on TPT. Here is what one REAL TEACHER had to say about it.

writing sentences daily

Here you can see more of what is included in the Daily Write-It Simple Sentences Resource.

Simple Sentences Writing

Teacher Friend, CHECK IN!

How do you teach sentence-writing to your students? I want to hear your BEST tips, strategies and resources. Your EXPERTISE and EXPERIENCE could truly help another teacher who is reading this post. Leave your best advice down in the comments!

Thank you for joining me, here. If you’ve made it this far down my post- our friendship is meant to be. Take another step in connecting with Primary Teachers by joining our Primary Teacher Friends FACEBOOK GROUP. We’d be honored to have you!

primary teachers facebook group


teacher toni

1 thought on “How to Teach Sentence Writing in Primary (K-2)”

  1. Susan

    😘 Hi Thank you for this video. I have been teaching K a while and felt my writing instruction wasn’t that strong. I love your explanation and the materials.

    I am excited about your engagement techniques and agree that teachers need to build a solid foundation AND allow creativity. Go Toni go.

    Susan in North Vancouver.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *