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Complete Sentences

Language Arts | Writing 

Shelley S

Full Member
Does anyone have a trick to get kids to write complete sentences? Every time I remind them to make sure they have a capital letter and punctuation half of the class will turn in their paper without doing it. I am so frustrated. I have taught sentences for 104 days now and still they do not do it.


Senior Member
I have a writing checklist anchor chart and my students have a copy in their writing folder:
I used a capital letter.
I used punctuation.
I used finger spaces.
I spelled word wall words correctly.
My sentences make sense.
I teach first grade and we just started using it in November. It takes practice, but they do use the checklist. I tell them check their writing checklist if they are missing something. I enforce this because I taught third grade and some kids did not write correctly.


Senior Member
Mommy9298’s checklist is great, especially if each child has a copy on their desk. Can you have the child highlight all their periods and (end of each sentence) punctuation in their writing when they finish before they turn it in?


Senior Member
I use a variety of techniques/methods, but still have quite a few who don't do so. Those are typically the kids who don't really grasp the idea of what a sentence is. So, I review that, too.

I show videos. I sing a little song to remind them. We use green to circle the beg. of the sentence and capitalize it. We use red to circle the end of the sentence and put a period. I have them trade papers to check. We do writing across the curriculum, and I reinforce it in those subjects, too. As they turn in their papers, I glance at them and hand them back to correct. I have used checklists on desks, but the same thing happens. Some just don't use it/use conventions correctly. I really reinforce it during reading group time every 3 days when we write about our reading. This helps because it is typically a group of 3-5 students so I can really hone in on it with them.

I find they do better when writing 1-2 sentences than they do in a longer written piece. I go back to...I think some just don't understand the concept of what a sentence is and we need to take a step back and teach/reinforce/review that.

And yet...our 5th grade teachers tell us that kids STILL don't use conventions correctly or consistently on the state test!!! Aargh! We scored very low in writing last year. I think with all the other things now added to our plates, the important things get less time and attention.

Just my opinion.


Senior Member
I think using capital letters and periods is a constant conversation among all teachers grades 1 - 6 in our building! I talk to kids a lot about it and try to understand why they don't use them. Many say that they just don't get what a complete sentence is (even with instruction). One time I copied their stories and gave them each a green and yellow highlighter. I asked them to highlight the first letter of the sentence in green and the end mark in yellow. It is well worth doing with your class just for the follow-up discussion. It definitely helped some of my students.