written by Phoebe Ann Erb Gallagher
A-Z sentences, one letter at a time, was a 1/2 hour warm-up I used once a week until the class got through the alphabet. We then made a little booklet of the sentences. It’s probably most fun as a group exercise. Of course, one tutor and one student can do it too.
Write down as many words beginning with the same letter as you can think of. Use a dictionary if students are stuck thinking of words. Guide students to come up with all parts of speech, nouns, verbs, adjectives etc.— everything you need to make a complete sentence.
For the letter Q my class came up with this list of words: queen Quincy Quentin quarters quack quick Quebec quit quiet queer question questioned and so on. Then, together we made the sentence “Quentin Quincy quit his job yesterday because his boss questioned him about the missing quarters in Quebec.”
A fun challenge, is to have all the words in the sentence begin with the letter you’re on. My class came up with this for E: “Everyday Elizabeth eats eggs.” and for F & H (almost every word): “Fatima had Friday off and she found a funny friend.” “Helen hates Henry and Harry.”
Students enjoyed the exercise and the sentences became more involved and sillier as we went along. For instance, compare E and Q sentences. Part of the exercise could include making sentences simpler. For instance in this M sentence my class wrote, “got” could be dropped. “Mary and Mohammed got married on the middle Monday of March in Marrakech, Morocco.” How much editing you decide to suggest depends on the literacy and writing level. Of course, word order and grammar must be correct in all cases.
Students enjoyed the repetitive sound of the initial letter. They appreciated having fun with the language which adds a dimension to literacy that’s missing in rote and standardized exercises. Think of the exercise as a variation of Peter Piper’s Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation. Rewriting Peter Piper’s twisters in modern, American lingo would be enjoyable too. I sometimes use traditional tongue twisters in class and it’s gratifying afterwards to hear students piling into the elevator saying to each other. “Fuzzy Wuzzy…….”