Sentence segmentation is the first step in phonological awareness. It is important that we really teach our students how to hear individual words in a whole sentence because they will need to be fluent at that before they can move on to hearing syllables. If we want our students to be able to read and write by recognizing chunks, this is the first thing we have to teach them!
Teaching students to hear words is the first step in their phonological awareness development.
The steps in phonological awareness, in order, are:
word recognition (sentences)
The students who will need practice with sentence segmentation are those who come to you with little to no experience reading and who are on an approaching or low level in your reading groups.
Some students will come to you knowing that sentences are made up of multiple words, that you read from left to right to make one complete thought. Those students, who come to you tracking print, will not need to practice this routine with you.
"baggie packets" with either all materials, or just those for syllables
Click here to see how to make the packets!
I would do this in small groups, as it only really serves some of your (approaching) students. This is a brief, easy way to differentiate your phonological awareness time in your reading groups!
For those students who aren't quite ready for phoneme segmenting and blending, you can instill the process in their brains by teaching them sentence segmentation!
Your students' brains work like this with sentence segmentation: three word sentences, four word sentences, and so on...
The process goes like this:
Your will need manipulatives for each student in your small group (see the "baggie packets" page to find what you need)! In the beginning, you will also need some for yourself so you can model.
Once all of the students have their materials, you can begin your instruction.
"Today, we are going to work on segmenting sentences. We are going to break the sentence down to hear individual words. We will listen, count the words, map the words, touch the words and re-read the sentence to make sure we hear every piece! Let's begin. Listen:
Our sentence is, 'I can run.'
(Students will say, "I can run.")
"Count the words."
(Students will count the words on their fingers as they say I... can... run.)
"Map the words."
(Students will map the words, one rectangle manipulative per word, as they say each word.
I (move a shape)... can (move a shape)... run (move a shape).)
"Touch the words."
(Students will touch each rectangle, moving from left to right, saying "I (touch)... can (touch)... run (touch).")
"Read the sentence."
(Students will say, "I... can... run" while touching the rectangles again.)
"Read the sentence fluently."
(Students will repeat the sentence, without touching the rectangles, with correctness.)
Once you've done this, repeat it with more words. After you've done this practice with 3-5 words once, they will have the routine down. You will easily and quickly be able to practice this with your small group(s) daily!
*Attached is a video of Sentence Segmenting in small groups (Day 2)!
Once my students really have sentence segmentation down, they are ready for syllable segmentation! However, it is important that students who need to will still be able to work with sentence segmentation every once in a while. Also, if students are unable to successfully segment syllables, it is important that they continually have repeated practice with sentence segmentation because that will provide the needed foundation!
Repeated practice of sentence segmentation can be done in the whole group setting, with small groups or even in pairs at center time!
Once students have all mastered sentence segmenting, I like to put a sentence ordering activity in centers. I like allowing students to explore word order while also recognizing (as this lesson has established) that words need to be put together to tell a complete thought! Attached here is an example of a Sentence Scramble Ordering Activity!