What is sentence level work?

Sentence level work is everything your child will be taught about grammar, text content and punctuation in the primary-school classroom. We offer some examples of activities to help them practise and improve their writing at home.

What is sentence level?

Teachers focus on three areas in literacy: word level work, sentence level work and text level work.

Word level relates to the spelling of individual words.

Sentence level relates to grammar, content and punctuation.

Text level relates to the structuring of a text as a whole, for example: writing a beginning, a middle and an end for a story, using paragraphs, remembering an introduction for a report, etc.

Sentence level work in the primary classroom

Sentence level work could involve the following in Reception, KS1 and KS2:

  • Reminding children to use capitals at the start of their sentences and full stops at the end. For this, children need to understand what a sentence is (a grammatical unit made up of one or more words). Lots of practice paying attention to pausing at the full stop when you're reading together at home can help with this.
  • Encouraging children to think about where question marks and exclamation marks should go. It is important to discuss with them what these forms of punctuation are for and point them out when reading.
  • Showing children how commas are often used to split up clauses in a sentence.
  • Modelling correct use of speech punctuation.
  • Helping them understand how to make nouns and verbs agree (for example, if a child has written: He take the bucket and spade, this would need to be corrected to: He takes the bucket and spade).
  • Modelling making a sentence more interesting by adding adjectives to a noun, or adding adverbs to a verb.
  • Showing children how two simple sentences can be joined together using a connective to make a complex sentence. For example: The monster roared loudly. It was hungry. could be changed to: The monster roared loudly because it was hungry.

Sentence level work can be done as a stand-alone activity, for example: teachers may give children worksheets on connectives, punctuation or powerful verbs.

It is also often taught as part of the main literacy teaching of a text; when modelling or editing a piece of writing, a teacher will pay particular attention to sentence level work. Modelling good sentences on the board is crucial for children to be able to learn how to form their own sentences. Reading a range of texts is also very important in terms of getting used to how sentences are structured.