Sentence Instruction

At the bottom of this page are three instructional lessons (student materials and suggested instructional scripts).

First, let’s cover two important pieces underlying these lessons.

  1. Model-Lead-Test instructional formats
  2. Picture-word prompts


The lessons (materials and instructional scripts) are formatted into sections of model, lead, and test.  Teachers physically model and vocalize the steps for students, lead students through guided practice with lessening amounts of support, and test for independence. The model-lead-test format is an efficient and effective way to teach new skills, such as constructing simple sentences.

Picture-Word Prompts 

Students who have difficulty writing report low motivation to engage in writing. This puts teachers in a conundrum: how do we get a student to engage in more writing when they are reluctant to write?

One way is to provide students with picture-word prompts.

Picture-Word Prompt
Picture-Word Prompt
Picture-Word Prompt
Picture-Word Prompt

Students could construct the following sentences to these picture-word prompts:

The cat ate the food. 
The little girl reached for the cookies

Picture-word prompts provide students a clear target for their writing. It also allows teachers to judge the accuracy of each sentence (e.g., Did students use the correct adjective or preposition?). Ultimately, we want students to write about other topics and prompts, such as “Should students be allowed to use their cell phones in class,” but picture-word prompts can help build towards those other topics.


Pre-skills needed by student:

  1. How well does your student read text? The lessons are written on a 2nd to 3rd grade readability.  Students reading text below this level, may have difficulty with the lessons. If you have questions on how to measure reading skills, google ‘DIBELS’ or ‘Oral Reading Fluency.’
  2. How fast and accurate is their handwriting? They will need to write between 60 to 100 correct letters per minute to fully benefit from the lessons. You can measure handwriting by having the student repeatedly write the alphabet for 60 seconds. Count the number of correctly formed letters.
  3. Is spelling a proficient skill or a difficulty? Sentences contain at a minimum two words (e.g., Sam ran).  A broad knowledge of words can help. See if your student can spell commonly used words, such as ‘man, can, am, the, ran’ etc. We are looking for commonly used words, not content specific words at this point such as photosynthesis (although, that would be awesome!).

Lesson Components

Each lesson comes with a set of student materials and a suggested instructional script. At the end of each set of student materials is a ‘checkout.’ This is designed to be completed independently by the student. They must score at least 90% accuracy on the checkout in order to proceed to the next lesson. If they score below 90%, then it is recommended they repeat the lesson.

Click on the links below to open and download each component as a PDF file.

Lesson 1 Script

Lesson 1 Student Materials

Lesson 2 Script

Lesson 2 Student Materials

Lesson 3 Script

Lesson 3 Student Materials

Permission granted to photocopy Lessons 1 to 3 (scripts and student materials) for personal and educational use as long as full copyright notice is included on all copies. Reproduction for sale is prohibited.