When students learn to read and explore the written word, they quickly learn sentences do a lot of things. They can ask a question, state a fact, deliver strong emotion, or make a command. Every sentence type has its time and place, and learning the function and how to use it is essential for becoming a skilled reader and writer. Unfortunately, students often become bored with grammar and don’t really understand why they need to know different sentence types.
Teaching students about types of sentences doesn’t have to be drudgery. Below is an engaging activity elementary students will love. Not only do they practice recognizing and creating imperative sentences, they’ll feel empowered as they get to create their own versions of new and improved “school rules.”
Pre activity lesson
Review with students the function of imperative sentences. Imperative sentences make a request, give a command, or express a wish. They are usually simple sentences but it’s not uncommon to find a complex sentence is also an imperative one. Depending on the strength of emotion behind the request, command, or wish, a period or exclamation mark punctuates the sentence.
Now is a good time to remind students that imperative sentences always have a subject, though it usually isn’t obvious. The subject is implied and it’s always the word “you.” And though it’s not necessary, it’s considered polite to include the word “please” at the beginning or end of the sentence.
“School Rules” Posters
Plain white paper
Colored construction paper
Colored pencils or markers
Begin the activity by reviewing aloud the list of classroom rules. Most all classroom rules are imperative sentences:
Raise your hand before speaking.
Be courteous to your classmates.
Bring pencil and paper with you everyday.
Ask students to identify what type of sentence each rule is and then explain why it is an imperative sentence.
Now students have an opportunity to create school rules they would like to see implemented. Explain these aren’t exactly rules of the school but “rules” for kind behavior everywhere. The rules can apply outside the classroom such as in the school cafeteria, playground, or on the school bus. Examples:
“Smile at the lunchroom staff when they hand you your tray.”
“Make a new friend everyday.”
Now, using the above materials, each student will create a poster of their rule. Have students write the rule on the white paper being sure to phrase it as an imperative sentence. They can draw a picture illustrating the rule in action or apply any other creative touch. Students love to do this!
After their artwork is finished, students can glue the poster on colored construction paper.
Have students share their posters with the class. Once all students have shown their posters, the teacher can re-emphasize each poster is an imperative sentence. Remind students the subject of each sentence, and therefore rule, is “you!”
Display the student’s artwork on the classroom wall for a continuing review of imperative sentences.
Adapting for older grade levels
Though older students could appreciate the poster activity, another age appropriate choice is to gather popular quotes or slogans on bumper stickers. Examples:
“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
“Just do it.”
Students can then compile a booklet titled, “My Book of Imperatives” or create their own title that reflects a collection of wishes, requests, or commands.