Sentence Scramblers

Sentence Scramblers is a winner game EVERY TIME for my students!

Chinese High School

I first began using this sentence scramblers 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.

sentence scramblers in China  Sentence scramblers in China

Every student was able to play this sentence scramblers because I could make it as easy or as challenging as they needed it to be.  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.

Common Core State Standards

Common Core State Standards that can be addressed in this game include:  CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.2, L.K.2.A, L.K.2.B, L.1.2, L.1.2.B, L.1.2.D, L.2.2, L.3.2, L.4.2, L.5.2, RF.K.1.C, RF.1.1.A, RF.3.3.D, RF.4.3.A

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You’ll need a place to write the scrambled sentences 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).

Sentence scramblers on a whiteboard

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.*)


Pairing Students

For this game, pair the younger children with older or struggling writers with advanced writers.

To prepare for this game, write out a list of sentences to scramble.  Use specific spelling patterns or vocabulary words that you know your students are working on.  Below, I’ve included lists of sentences that I’ve used in my teaching.

When writing out the sentences, half of them are simple for young or struggling writers.  The other half are challenging for the older or advanced writers.  That way, the sentences are tailored to meet the varying needs of each student.

For the younger group, I scramble an easy sentence, for the older group, a longer, more challenging one.


First, draw a box in the top center of the whiteboard.  Write the words that are in a sentence in a scrambled fashion.

The first word of the sentence is capitalized.  Additionally, include any punctuation in the box.

sentence scramblers on a whiteboard

Next, the children write the words in order to make a complete, correct sentence.

Can I go?

Checking Their Work

In order to earn a point, the written sentence has to have a capital letter, spacing, correct spelling and punctuation.

Once students have completed their sentence, they don’t say anything.  Instead, they just turn and look at me or hold up their white board.

students writing out the sentence scramblers    students writing out the sentence scramblers

I look at it.

Need a Thumbs Up!

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.  When there are no mistakes, students get a thumbs up and tally a point.  Students who have a mistake continue to correct the sentence until they get a thumbs up.

Once each pair has correctly written the sentence, move onto the next turn.   Continue to play until the allotted time runs out!

Print the Instructions

Here are the instructions for you to print out and use.

Lists of Sentences to Scramble

Below are lists of sentences that I’ve scrambled for students.  They accompany specific writing prompts.

Sentences to go along with the Rapunzel writing Prompt

Sentences to go along with the I’m Ready for a Pet!-Persuasive prompt

Pet on a porch-sentence scramblers

Descriptive sentences to go along with the State Fair-descriptive prompt.

Tiger Facts to go along with the Tigers Rescued-Fiction prompt.

Serval Facts to go along with the Servals-A Personal Narrative prompt.

Lemur Facts to go along with the Lemurs vs. Lumberjacks prompt.

Descriptive Sentences from the book and writing prompt titled Dance at Grandpa’s

Sight Word Sentences for Beginner Writers

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.)