Different Ways to Start Sentences

Different Ways to Start Sentences

Students should use different ways to start sentences. Teaching students to use a variety of sentence structures can greatly improve their writing. This post contains a step-by-step lesson plan with printables for teaching students this very important skill.

The activities in this lesson can easily be divided across multiple days into mini-lesson or taught as one lesson. Also, the materials are easily modified to meet varying levels of learners.

Step 1 – The Hook

Begin by having students write a short passage. This can be on any topic including narratives or nonfiction. Next, have students use highlighters to underline the first word in each sentence. Students will be surprised that their sentences often begin with the same words repeated over and over. Save these passages for students to edit after completing all activities.

Step 2 – Guided Practice

Different Ways to Begin Sentences Teacher Notes

Begin by downloading the “Different Ways to Start Sentences” handout. The handout contains both teacher reference pages with definitions and examples and student printables. You will also find answer keys and a checklist for students.

Go over some ways to begin sentences other than the typical subject-verb sentence structure. 

A series of handouts are provided. Teachers can use the suggested sentence starters or use the blank page to personalize the activity based on topics that students have covered. For this exercise, students revise the sentence “David ran to catch the bus.” using different sentence starters. 

Learning about Different Ways to Begin Sentences

A total of 16 different ways to begin sentences are included. Here are a few examples:

  • Begin with a verb ending with -ing.
    Gagging for breath, David ran to catch the bus.
  • Begin with a verb ending with -ed.
    Frightened he would be late for school, David ran to catch the bus.
  • Begin with a prepositional phrase.
    With his backpack flopping on his back, David ran to catch the bus.
  • Begin with an adverb.
    Hurriedly David ran to catch the bus.
  • Begin with an adjective.
    Anxious about being late for school, David ran to catch the bus.
  • Begin with a phrase that tells when.
    At 7:00 AM, David ran to catch the bus.
  • Begin with a phrase that tells where.
    Down Main Street, David ran to catch the bus.
  • Begin with a sound word.
    Swoosh, David ran to catch the bus.

Step 3 – Identifying Different Ways to Start Sentences

Identifying Different Sentence Starters

These independent practice exercises match the guided practice exercises provided earlier.

The first page contains the same sentence beginnings (adverb, adjective, prepositional phrase, onomatopoeia, and participle phrase) as the guided practice.

Likewise, the second practice page contains the same sentence beginnings (subordinating clause, interjection, transitional phrase, and infinitive phrase) as the second guided practice page.

Students write the type of beginning that is used for each sentence.

Step 4 – Writing Sentence Beginnings

Writing Different Sentence Starters

Students add beginnings to the sentences provided. This practice exercise asks students to write specific types of sentence beginnings. A sample answer key is provided.

Step 5 – Revising Sentences from the Hook Activity

Have students rewrite their passages from the “Hook Activity” making sure that every sentence begins with a different word. Turn the activity into a challenge by seeing how many different methods students can use to begin sentences in their passage. Remind students that their passages must make sense and flow while using different structures.

I hope your students will learn a lot from these step-by-step practice exercises!

Gay Miller

Permanent link to this article: https://bookunitsteacher.com/wp/?p=3446


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    • Becky on November 11, 2019 at 10:40 am

    This looks awesome for my third graders! I’m sure it’s easy, but I can’t tell how to download.

    1. Look next to the image for the text that says, “The printable can be found here.” The word here is linked.

    • kathy on November 12, 2019 at 9:20 am

    You are very talented. Thank you for your magnificent ideas

    • Megan on February 28, 2023 at 12:38 pm

    Thank you, our schools don’t teach parts of speech in elementary anymore so I’ve found the high schoolers’ sentences to be dull and lifeless. Now all I have to do is figure out how to adapt your materials to avoid “scary” grammar terms. TyTyTy

    1. You’re welcome. I hope your students enjoy the activities and learn a lot.

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