Using colored cards for sentence formation activities

Using colored index cards (or writing in different colored markers on white paper) can be extremely helpful in illustrating grammatical concepts. The color coding of the cards helps with keeping the parts of the sentences identifiable. For more complicated concepts, start by simply working on phrases until the student is comfortable. Then, add additional words to the mix and make scrambled sentences. The key to making this successful is being consistent with the colors you use. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. For quantifiers and qualifiers used with noun/verb combinations and adjectives, use five total colors: one color card for the quantifiers, one color card for the noun/verb combinations, one color card for the qualifiers, one color card for the adjectives and one color for the rest of the sentence.  Play with the combinations to see which work and which don’t.  Then, add cards with other words to create complete sentences.

2. For phrasal verbs (also called “two part verbs”) choose two different colors – one for the verb and one for the preposition. Work with your student to come up with as many combinations as possible. Then try to use each in a sentence.

3. For irregular simple past verbs, use three colors – one color for the simple present, one for the simple past and one for words that will create an entire sentence. Have the student create sentences in one tense and then find the same card in the opposite tense to replace it with. Repeat several times.

4. To work on the third person singular added s use one color for the entire sentence, and have one colored s card. Make a show of adding the s whenever appropriate.

(Thank you to Intercambio volunteer Margaret Porter for the inspiration for these activities!)