Oral language development is crucial to Kindergarteners because it lays the foundation to the development of reading and writing. One of the main skills students need to tackle is speaking in complete sentences.
Our students are used to songs on the radio, seeing text messages, hearing people use terms such as "lol," and things of that nature. Because of the lack of good language skills in today's society, our students need to be pushed, early on in the year, to always speak in complete sentences. Children are steeped in deciphering the print-sound code, so it makes sense that they should be using full sentences in their daily speech.
Here is a fun video to teach students about complete sentences. This video is very silly, but it gets the point across. I use this video 2-3 times at the beginning of the school year and student not only enjoy it, but really understand the concept.
Here is an informational video with some strategies that I use in my classroom. I like how quickly and simply this information is stated and I appreciate that it gives you ideas to immediately implement.
Within the first couple of weeks of school, I take every opportunity to remind my students to "always speak in complete sentences." I think that teaching them how to do this is my job. It is hard in the beginning, but it is always worth it when I hear how nicely my students speak throughout the year.
No matter what is going on, I always encourage my students to speak in complete sentences. I take a few seconds, when needed, and do things such as the following:
If we are working in math and a student says something such as, "Six," I will restate their answer the correct way to model for them. "I have six."... And I will ask them to repeat it correctly.
If a student gives a one word answer, such as, "Yes," I will say, "Yes........?" And they will usually get the hint to add to their answer.
One of the most useful tasks I implement to encourage speaking in complete sentences involves the use of adjectives and verbs. When I have them play a game like this, it gives them a target to shoot for, so they really like to play! Here is a description of that game.
When we are working on adjectives, we will play "complete the sentence" using adjectives. I will begin with a sentence such as, "My pants are........ My pants are black." Then, I will choose a student and I will say something such as, "The soup is........" and they will have to fill in the adjective and say, "The soup is warm." Once I have given an example and then guided the students through one, I will have them break into small groups. Then, they take turns, in small groups, giving the beginning of a sentence and having their partner repeat it and complete it. I walk around and monitor and adjust. If a student gives a one word answer during this process, their partners know to say "Repeat and complete." They do a pretty good job, and it gives them great practice with their adjectives.
When we are working on verbs, we will play "complete the sentence" using verbs. I will begin with a sentence such as, "I can........ I can jump." Then, I will choose a student and I will say something such as, "Can we go outside and........" and they will have to fill in the verb and say, "Can we go outside and swim?" Once I have given an example and then guided the students through one, I will have them break into small groups. Then, they take turns, in small groups, giving the beginning of a sentence and having their partner repeat it and complete it. Again, I walk around and monitor and adjust. If a student gives a one word answer during this process, their partners know to say "Repeat and complete." They do a pretty good job with practicing verbs in this way as well.
Here is a video of students' complete sentences when we are working in the whole group. I love taking typical questions or tasks and making sure students answer me appropriately.
Also, I love to have my students do this introductory activity (which they think is a game) throughout the entire year. There are many ways to change this activity up and to make it more challenging as the year goes on.
Complete the sentence with verbs, adjectives or even proper nouns.
Complete the sentence with number words or color words.
Complete the sentence by adding a connecting word and adding some more information.
The list goes on and on.
I like to play this game when we have a little time left over during our grammar practice time, as it falls right in with our skills and it is fun. This game builds the ear for hearing complete sentences and also trains the brain to always think in complete sentences. Your students will love this!
***The most useful way I use this strategy is implemented after we have played the game a few times! I have students us complete sentneces when answering questions, when asking each other questions, etc. I use the (attached) questioning and prompting sheet with my students and I really encourage them, at all times, to ALWAYS speak in complete sentences!