Today I tried out an activity created by Effie Cannon. I gave each student a piece of paper with several parts of speech listed vertically. I had half the students start at the bottom and the other half at the top, folding their papers after they had written the word required. We passed the papers around a circle and repeated the action until each sheet was filled. Students did not know what was on the paper they received. Students then unfurled their papers and found a complete (fairly nonsensical) sentence. They tweaked the verb tense to make it work and then wrote each sentence on the board. These are the sentences they created. WARNING: I HAVE NOT EDITED SEXUAL OR POLITICALLY INCORRECT CONTENT. THESE ARE THE ACTUAL SENTENCES STUDENTS CREATED BY ACCIDENT!
The blue rhino is kissing a very elaborate skyscraper.
The Asian girl is really limping the special window.
A butt-ugly teacher is unfortunately squishing a stupified house.
The ugly kangaroo was happily thrusting the stupendous apartment.
The indigo mother was thrustingly tackling the greasy Mexican boy.
The slow Asian girl had spiritually impaled the Negro water.
A pretty elephant seal was gently stroking a secret paper.
The kissing chair is stupendously attacking the red acne.
The ridiculous soccer mom was mostly trapezed on the spacious hibachi.
A dumb worker had hurriedly thrusted the green platypus poop.
Why try this exercise? My students found it to be a great parts of speech review although that wasn't my purpose. I wanted to make the point that writers DO NOT structure their sentences by accident, that we are VERY deliberate about the placement of words. I moved from this "game" to an analysis of syntax in a short passage.