Bringing back the joy of reading & writing



Teaching tips & resources


Sentence Scavenger Hunting

In order for your child to write well, grammar skills are essential. Once your child knows their parts of speech, it’s time to take a closer look at the parts of a sentence – the basic unit of expression in writing.

What makes a sentence, a sentence?

A simple sentence must have a subject who or what is being or doing the action; a noun or noun phrase; the topic of the sentence and, a predicatewhat the subject is doing; the part of the sentences containing the verb and stating something about the topic. Though finding the noun and verb may seem easy, it can be very challenging when sentences get longer and more complex. Consider this example: 

Could you find the main noun and verb at the heart of this simple sentence? (girl; stared)

A hands-on way to practice identifying the subject and predicate of sentences with your child is with a Prepositional Phrase Scavenger Hunt.

A sentence’s subject and verb are never found in a prepositional phrase; therefore, teach your child to locate and cross them out. Doing so will eliminate the need to guess and make it easy to find the subject and verb of any sentence. Take another look at our sample sentence:

Try this sequence of activities to help your child locate the subject and verb of a simple sentence.

  1. First, have your child memorize a list of common prepositions like this one. Adapt your list to match her age.
  2. Once your child has memorized the list of prepositions, conduct scavenger hunts through magazines, newspapers, or worksheets that she can write on. Circle each preposition.
  3. Then, teach her what a prepositional phrase is: A group of words that begins with a preposition and ends with a noun or pronoun (the object of the preposition). For example: behind the store; with great joy; near me
  4. Start with short, simple sentences and have your child cross out all the prepositional phrases.
  5. With the remaining words ask, Who or what is doing or being in the sentence? (the subject) What are they doing? (the verb)

Being able to identify these two essential sentence features will make your child a stronger writer. It will help her write complete and clear sentences and understand grammatical concepts like fragments and run-ons.

Activity adapted from: Phillips, Wanda C. Easy Grammar: Grade 4. Scottsdale, AZ: Easy Grammar Systems, 2006. Print.