When a child finally learns how to construct their own simple sentences, for kids (and parents!), it’s a really special moment.
Word combinations such as “knee sore” turn into, “Mommy, my knee is sore.” Or “now juice” develops into, “Can I have some juice?”
There’s no denying the importance of sentences — they help us better express our thoughts and feelings. So the only question now is: How can you help your child start constructing their own sentences so that they, too, can communicate better?
Two words: simple sentences.
When Do Kids Start Forming Sentences?
Children start forming sentences once they know a few words. But language development is quite a journey!
Somewhere between 18 and 24 months, a toddler will begin constructing two-word “sentences,” like “want milk” or “no sleep.” At this stage, they are linking two or more words together to express an idea. This is the first step and a big milestone.
By four years old (sometimes earlier), most children are speaking in complete sentences. But that doesn’t mean they’ve reached the end of their sentence journey.
While your child may be speaking in complete sentences, finding playful ways to expose four and five year olds to sophisticated aspects of sentences while being kid appropriate is beneficial. This will help them continue developing their language skills.
One of the best ways to do so is to encourage children to speak in complex sentences to express their ideas. How? This can be achieved by simply resisting the temptation to simplify our own speech.
Remember that children are learning sponges! They will naturally pick up on the language habits you expose them to. So, continue speaking in complex sentences while in their presence. It’s not a bad thing if your child asks, “What does that mean?”
Of course, simple sentences come first.
What Makes A Simple Sentence?
A simple sentence is the most basic form of a sentence. It contains only one independent clause — a group of words that forms a complete thought and is made up of a subject and predicate (which includes a verb and expresses what is said about the subject).
For example, in the simple sentence, Thomas kicks the ball, “Thomas” is the simple subject and “kicks the ball” is the predicate, with “kicks” being the verb, or simple predicate.
Simple sentences for kids are mostly short, but they can also be long. The length of the sentence isn’t the focus. What’s important is that the basic elements (subject and predicate) are always present.
When we communicate in our everyday lives, there’s usually a good mixture of both simple and more complex sentences without us even thinking about it. In order to help our kids reach this effortless communication stage, we need to help them understand the basics.
The good thing about the English language (and every other language, actually!) is that once you understand the basics, moving on to complicated structures is easier.
Simple Sentences For Kids To Act Out
One of the best ways for children to learn is through acting things out. If you have an active young child who enjoys moving around, why not use their energy to encourage some learning?
Here are some simple sentences for kids they will have fun acting out.
- He reads a book.
- The dog barks.
- The cat sits on the mat.
- I hop on one foot.
- The pig gobbles his food.
- The rooster crows.
With these sentences for kids, your child will have a blast while naturally learning what makes up a sentence!
Other Ways To Practice Sentences For Kids
1) Use Pictures
We recommend having your child use pictures to make up stories. You can even record the stories and listen to them for a little added fun!
If your child wants to write their ideas, too, that’s great! But don’t worry about standard spelling; much more important is the creative effort involved in thinking of a great story composed of interesting sentences of their own creation.
You can use pictures of animals, nature, sports, or even family photos. Then encourage your child to share whatever comes to their mind after having a look at these images.
During the first session, your child may need a few verbal prompts to help them get started. Simple questions like, “What’s happening in the picture?” or “What does this image remind you of?” can help to get their creativity flowing.
If you have multiple children, you can allow them to share what they came up with about the same image. As individuals, they will most likely think of different sentences, so this is a great opportunity to emphasize how everyone has unique ideas.
We encourage you to allow your children creative freedom here. The idea is to place an image in front of them and let them create anything they feel like creating.
2) Play Sentence Games
If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’ll know one thing for sure — the HOMER team loves a good game! Games are not only fun, but they’re also great ways to help children remember fundamental learning concepts.
One of our favorite sentence games is Sentence Mix & Match.
What You’ll Need:
- Several index cards
- Markers to write with
What To Do:
- Write interesting subjects on half of the index cards (Ideally, these are things that your child likes. For example: dinosaurs, ice cream, different shapes, colors, etc.).
- On the other half, write predicates or sentence endings that make sense with your individual subjects.
- After writing, place the cards so that they make realistic sentences.
- Then, turn all the cards over and shuffle them. At this point, you want to ensure that you separate sentence beginnings and endings.
- After the shuffle, turn your cards over and discover what silly sentences you get.
- Remember to begin the subject cards with capital letters and sentence-endings cards with a period.
This is a fun activity to help children see that sentences are not always set in stone. They will also quickly learn that the meaning of a sentence can change when words get moved around.
3) Play With Types Of Sentences
Sentence Mix & Match is not the only way to help children learn sentences for kids while also having fun. Another activity we’re huge fans of is playing with types of sentences. Specifically — statements, questions, and exclamations.
To get started, pick any simple sentence that your child will already be familiar with (e.g., “I like playing outside.”).
Next, encourage your child to say this same sentence as a statement, a question, and then an exclamation.
Similar to Sentence Mix & Match, this game helps children understand that minor tweaks can change the meaning of a sentence.
Children will come across punctuation marks during reading time, but they may not always understand the significance of each. This game will help your child learn how periods, question marks, and exclamation points affect a sentence.
5) Make A Switch
The subject and predicate for each simple sentence have a specific function. For children to use these correctly, they will need to understand what their roles are.
When kids start speaking as babies and then toddlers, they often repeat words, phrases, or the simple sentences they’ve heard from you, your partner, siblings, or other people around them.
At this stage, they haven’t fully grasped the functions of subjects and predicates. If we want to help our children develop their own sentences, we will need to help them understand the roles of these sentence parts.
A creative game they (and you!) will enjoy involves switching the subjects and predicates of a sentence.
Start with a simple three-word sentence, like, “A cat played.” Then take turns changing either the subject or the predicate of the sentence.
This may look something like this:
- A cat jumped
- A dog jumped
- A dog growled
- A gerbil growled
- A gerbil scampered
Once your young learner is confident switching three-word sentences, move on to four words, five words, and so forth.
Through this fun activity, your child will start understanding the roles of predicates and subjects in sentences.
Simple Sentences For The Win!
A child’s language journey is pretty incredible. It often starts with lots of babbling and moves to single words. Soon, you get two-word combinations, and before you know it, you’re given a detailed account of what happened in class today.
As you’re doing the activities we’ve mentioned, remember to allow your child creative freedom. We know that language has a lot of rules, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun! Encourage your young learner to be as imaginative as they want to be.
For instance, if they write or say, “The lion growls at the dinosaur,” let’s celebrate the correct sentence construction and, for a moment, imagine a world where lions and dinosaurs exist in the same age!
For more fun and effective learning activities, check out the HOMER Learn & Grow app.