How many times have you looked at your students’ sentences and thought, “These sentences are too short,” or “They don’t give any details?” We experience this quite often in first grade where we constantly see sentences such as, “I like ___” or “___ is nice.” BOR-ING! This is why we created the Boring Sentence Repair Shop.
Just like a car that needs repairing, our boring sentences can go in the shop in shambles and come out like new! The repair shop itself is simply a piece of poster board with a clip-art picture of a repair shop glued to it. Then the entire poster is laminated to last longer. The repair shop process works best when done as a whole group or in small groups. As a class, we brainstorm a simple sentence such as, “I like to eat cookies.” Then we write the boring sentence on a sentence strip and cut off the blank space left at the end to highlight how short it really is. We read it together, shout “BOR-ING!” and we get another strip. (Make sure it’s long!)
We start brainstorming ways to “repair” our sentence. For instance, we might ask, “What are some synonyms for like?” Then we choose or vote on one of those words. We ask questions relevant to our boring sentence topic. “Why do you like to eat cookies?” “What kind of cookies do you eat?” “What is a stronger or better word for ‘eat’?” “Where do you like to eat your cookies?” We go back and forth with ideas eventually settling on the best verbs, adjectives, and nouns we can conjure up. An example might be, “I adore devouring gooey, warm, chocolate chip cookies.” We write our repaired sentence on the long strip; sometimes we even have to tape two strips together.
Here comes the hokey part, but we swear they eat it up every time. We put the new sentence behind the repair shop poster board. Then we say something such as, “Let’s reread our boring sentence.” Afterwards, slide it behind the poster board. Then say, “So we repaired out boring sentence and now it’s ready.” Slide the new sentence out from the other side of the repair shop with a “Ta-da!” and read it together.
After reading, compare the two sentences by getting oral feedback from the students. Create a bulletin board to display your sentences no matter how often you do them. Make sure to organize them with a clear before and after connection. Then sit back, eat a gooey, warm, chocolate chip cookie, and watch the improvement on individual sentence writing.