Sentence Scramblers has been a winner game EVERY TIME for my students! I first began using this game in China (Read my full teaching background here.) when all I had was chalk and a chalkboard.
I was teaching a group of public high school students, 60 in a class.
Every student was able to play this game because I could make it as easy or as challenging as they needed. I was even able to get the kids sleeping at the back of the class to participate. HA!
As my time in China progressed, I began incorporating the English vocabulary words that they were learning in their English classes. The local Chinese English teachers loved that I was supporting them and their curriculum.
This game can truly be played anywhere, for any age, with any language.
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Here it goes:
You’ll need a place to write the scrambled sentence such as a white board, chalkboard, smart board (or lots of individual pieces of paper if you’re working with one or two students and that’s all you have).
The participants can either write on the class whiteboard or chalkboard (as they did in China because I didn’t have individual whiteboards).
Or they can write on their own individual white board, chalk board or piece of paper. Nowadays, at my writing camps, I divide the groups into pairs and give each pair one small whiteboard, a black dry erase marker and a sock to serve as an eraser. (Here’s a class pack you can purchase if that’s easier.*)
For this game, I pair the younger children with older. Every time I plan to play this game, I write out a list of sentences to scramble from easy to challenging. That way the sentences are tailored to meet the needs of the varying levels of ability. For the younger group, I scramble an easy sentence, for the older group, a longer, more challenging one.
I draw a box in the top center of the whiteboard. I write the words that are in a sentence in a scrambled fashion. The first word of the sentence is capitalized. And I include any punctuation in the box as well.
The children then write the words in order to make a complete, correct sentence.
In order to earn a point, the sentence has to have a capital letter, spacing, correct spelling and punctuation.
Once they’ve completed their sentence, they don’t say anything. They just turn and look at me or hold up their white board.
I look at it. If there is one mistake, I hold up 1 finger. If there are 2 mistakes, 2 fingers, 3 mistakes, 3 fingers, 4 mistakes, 4 fingers. If there are no mistakes, I give them a thumbs up and they tally a point. If they have a mistake, they continue to correct the sentence until I give them a thumbs up.
Once each pair has correctly written the sentence, we move onto the next turn. We continue to play until the allotted time runs out!
Below are lists of sentences that I’ve scrambled for students. They accompany specific writing prompts. I’ll be adding to this list regularly as I post more prompts and lists! (If you’d like to receive new writing prompt and game ideas regularly, you can sign up for my free monthly newsletter below.)