Scrambled Sentences

scrambled sentences 1

This game is fabulous! Students work together with a partner to unscramble sentences. This game reinforces vocabulary that they’ve learned and they have to navigate the grammar of each sentence to figure out the order. This one takes a while to set up before hand, so I only play this a few times a year, but my students love it.  And this activity makes for a stellar observation. My principal made an unannounced observation while we were playing this, and he was quite impressed. 100% engagement, baby!  If you want to play but don’t want to create it from scratch, here’s a scrambled sentences game we play in our Spanish 1 Food Unit. 

To prep:

  1. To make this game, write out 20-25 sentences, using current vocabulary and grammar structures.  You can make a coherent story or random sentences, but think about the words you’re using and be sure they can only be in one order, because the students will  correct the sentences and you don’t want to have a bunch of possible answers.  (You need 5-6 more than half the number of students in your class. So for a class of 30 students, you need about 20 sentences.)

Here are some sample sentences that I wrote for my Spanish 4s, about the novel we were reading, Esperanza renace. Number them like this:

1. Si el papá de Esperanza no se hubiera muerto, ella no se habría marchado.

2. Si Esperanza no les hubiera alimentado las ciruelas, los bebés no se habrían enfermado.

3. Si abuelita no se hubiera roto el tobillo, habría viajado a California.

  1. Copy the sentences into a powerpoint, that you will use after the game to correct their sentences. Set up the animation so that it shows one sentence at a time.
  1. Copy the sentences onto a word document, then insert spaces between each word. The easiest way to do this is to make 5-6 spaces, copy it and then paste it between each word. Make 2 or 3 copies of this sheet to have available while playing the game. It will look like this:
  1. Si       el               papá        de        Esperanza        no        se        hubiera        muerto,        ella        no        lo        habría        extrañado.
  2. Si        Esperanza        no        les        hubiera        alimentado        las        ciruelas,        los        bebés        no        se        habrían        enfermado.
  3. Si        abuelita        no        se        hubiera        roto        el        tobillo,        habría        viajado        a California.
  1. Cut up the sentences between each word and put them in a plastic Easter Eggs, and use a sharpie to number the egg. So, put all the words for #1 in the egg labeled #1. My TA does this part of the task, because they don’t pay me enough to spend my evenings cutting apart words for a super fun game. Put all the numbered eggs into a basket.scrambled sentences 2
  1. Copy the sentence again into a new page to make the sheet the students will use to write their answers in. Copy the Sentences again, on a new page, and replace each word with a space. The easiest way to do this is to make a line, copy it, highlight each word and paste the line over it.  (I like to make this page landscape rather than portrait since it fits better on the page) (Give the students a space for their names). Depending on the sentence and the level of my students, I may leave a few words in the answer document to use as hints. 

Nombres_________________________ y_________________________

  1. ____________      __________      __________      __________      __________      __________      __________      __________      __________, __________      __________      __________      __________      __________      .
  2. __________      Esperanza __________      __________      __________      __________      __________      __________  , __________      __________      __________      __________      __________      __________ .
  3. __________      __________      __________      __________      __________      __________      __________      __________, __________      __________      __________      __________ .

To play:

  • Pair students (I use Animal Partners to do this) and give each pair one answer sheet.
  • One student goes to the basket, grabs an egg, and returns to their partner. Together they open the egg and arrange the words into a coherent sentence, copy the sentence onto their paper, carefully return the words to the egg, return the egg to the basket, take another egg and begin again.

  • After about 20-30 minutes of play, the teacher collects all the eggs then the students “trade and grade” to determine the winner.
  • The teacher projects the sentences, one at a time and students compare the paper they are grading with the correct answer on the board. If the sentence is perfect, award 1 point. If there are any mistakes, or they didn’t have time to unscramble a number, it earns 0 points.
  • The pair that has the most correct, wins!
  • The top scoring students bring me their stamp sheets for a stamp. 

scrambled sentences 1

Pro Tips:

  • If students do not carefully return ALL the papers to their egg, no one else will be able to figure out that sentence. Before students begin working on a new egg, they should count how many lines that number has, and count how many papers are in the egg. If the line count and paper count isn’t the same, they should not attempt that egg! Instruct them to bring it to you, and take a different egg.
  • When a student brings up an egg that is missing a paper, empty all the papers (No time to figure out which one is missing), take out the copy you made of the sentences with spaces in it, and quickly cut apart the papers that belong to that egg. Replace the papers in the egg, return it to the basket and it’s back in the game!
  • Guard the basket of eggs with your life! I hold it the entire game, even as I am moving around the room helping students. Every time a student returns an egg, verify that it is snapped shut, so that it doesn’t open in the basket. Once, before I wised up, a student knocked the basket off the table, and all the eggs crashed to the ground and cracked open. Don’t cry over spilt milk, but scrambled sentences all over the floor….I nearly cried. 

Here I am, guarding them with my life. I walk around the room helping kids and the basket stays with me!


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