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Want to give your child some writing practice over the holidays?

Why not play the Santa

Clause game? This activity will have your child learning about dependent and independent
clauses, not to mention the punctuation that goes in the middle. By matching Christmas clauses,
shell get a slice of learning along with her figgy pudding!

What You Need:

Green and red construction paper cut into twenty 2 x 3 rectangles

Construction paper of a contrasting color (such as yellow or blue) cut into six 2 x 3

Pen or marker

A clause is a group of words usually consisting of a subject and a predicate. A regular old
sentence is a clause, but sometimes things get more complicated, because one sentence can
contain more than one clause: like this one, for example. That sentence you just read contained
an independent clause, a colon, and a dependent clause. An independent clause is one that can
stand alone as a sentence, while a dependent clause cant.
Semicolons (which look like ; ) link two independent clauses together. Colons (which looks like :
) link one independent clause with one dependent one. And commas? They are used when two
clauses are connected by conjunction, such as and, but, and or. Ready to play?

What You Do:

Step 1 Both you and your child should each come up with ten or more clauses having to do with
the holidays, and make sure that you have a mix of independent and dependent clauses, and that
some contain conjunctions. For example: I want one thing this Christmas: a new bike. Mom and
Dad sometime sleep in on Christmas morning, but I always wake up early. Christmas is my
favorite holiday; it always seems to make everyone feel happy. Each clause should be written on
its own piece of paper, but dont include the colon or semicolon on the card. With each rectangle
representing a separate paper, it should look like:
I want one thing this Christmas

a new bike

Mom and Dad sometime sleep in on Christmas


but I always wake up early

Christmas is my favorite holiday

it always seems to make everyone feel


Step 2 on the six cards of a contrasting colour, label two with a comma, two with a semicolon,
and two with a colon. Place them in a pile, face-down, between the two players.
Step 3 Place the clause cards you have created face-down between the two players, and mix
them up.
Step 4 Play the clause game! To play, each player takes turns turning over one of the punctuation
cards. They then must match two clause cards that might use that punctuation mark. For instance,
if you draw a comma card, you first turn over one clause card. You then have three chances to
turn over another clause card that works with the first and with the comma to form a sentence.
Sound easy? You may have clause to think otherwise!
By Kate Smith
Kate Smith has been a teacher since 1997. She has taught in New York and California, with
experience in all subjects and grades from 1 to 12, but the heart of her expertise lies in middle
school, primarily English and Journalism. She has a B.A. in English and a Master of Science in
Teaching from Fordham University.

A Snowball Fight....in So Cal? In the Spring??

Today we had a snowball fight in my classroom. Well...sort of. I know what you're thinking.
Snowballs now? What is she talking about? Well, if I had titled this post "Independent and
Dependent Clauses in Mrs. Moorman's Room", you wouldn't have opened this post. Am I right?
Thought so. So now that you are here, you might as well read about what we have been
doing...and I promise there will be a snowball fight in here somewhere ;)

This week, we have been talking about independent and dependent clauses. We have learned
about them before, so it isn't new. However this week we get an entire week of them. With The
TEST looming, it is good timing. The week started with a morning message filled with the
clauses (and appositives...I thought I could throw those in as well). The kids found and
combined them, just as they will be asked to do on The TEST. Here is a copy of the morning
message for you.

After creating a review anchor chart (this is the actual one I made with the students, which would
explain the sloppiness), we opened up the workbooks to identify the different clauses. Talk
about B.O.R.I.N.G. Instead, the kids created a foldable.

Dependent Clause Game Ideas

Knowing the difference between a dependent and an independent clause is important to students
who are learning to write. Students must learn the difference between the two and understand
how to avoid writing a dependent clause as a sentence, creating what is often called a sentence
fragment. Games can help students understand and identify dependent and independent clauses,
which in turn will help them improve their writing skills and produce higher-quality work.

Scavenger Hunts

Create a scavenger hunt to help students learn to identify dependent and independent
clauses. Write dependent and independent clauses on index cards, one clause on each
card, and hide the cards around the classroom. Divide the class into two teams, and have
one team search for dependent clauses and the other for independent clauses. Another
way to create a scavenger hunt is to hide only dependent clauses and have everyone

search until they have found one. Then ask students to match their dependent clause with
an independent clause listed on the blackboard. For instance, a student who finds a card
that reads "because he was hungry" could connect it to the independent clause "He ate a
hamburger" written on the board.

Sentence Tiles

Teach kids about dissecting sentences by writing dependent clauses and independent
clauses on index cards, one on each card. On other cards, write colons; semicolons; and
commas followed by conjunctions -- "and," "but," "or," "for," "so," and yet." Have
students construct their own sentences by rearranging the cards. Encourage them to join
an independent clause to another independent clause with a colon or semicolon. They can
also use the cards with a semicolon and the cards with a comma plus a conjunction to join
two independent clauses.

Silly Sentence Games

Give each student a slip of paper with a dependent clause written on it. Then ask students
to incorporate their clause into a silly sentence. For instance, a student might receive the
dependent clause "Since he learned to play the piano." He can create a sentence by
adding a comma, followed by "he can entertain his pet monkey" or "he has made a
million dollars."


Consider creating holiday-specific games to help teach dependent and independent

clauses. For instance, create a Christmas game by drawing a poster with a picture of
Santa Claus holding two gift bags. Label the bags "Independent Clauses" and "Dependent
Clauses." Point out that the title of the game is "Santa Clause." Write holiday-related
independent and dependent clauses such as "All I want for Christmas" and "is a new
puppy" on small note cards, and have students put the clauses into the appropriate gift

WOLC 1.1 - Dependent/Independent Clauses

Standard : 1.0 Written and Oral English 1.1 Identify and correctly use prepositional phrases,
Language Conventions

appositives, and independent and dependent clauses; use

transitions and conjunctions to connect ideas.

I. Desired Outcome
II. Evidence of Learning*

80 % of SWBAT to identify and accurately create

independent and dependant clauses by the end of the week,
as demonstrated by a teacher created quiz.
Daily Exit Tickets
Think-Pair Share
Thursday Quiz

III. Opening the Lesson

A. Activity to open the lesson ideally:
1. Motivates and engages students,
2. Either assesses prior knowledge
or explicitly builds on prior
knowledge/life experiences/interests
for example, Do Nows
3. States the objective of the lesson.
B. How long will the opening take?
C. Consider Blooms Taxonomy/Ask good
questions (Knowledge, Understanding,
Application, Analysis, Synthesis,

Tell students that this week they will be learning how to

correctly identify and create dependent and independent
clauses during their grammar lessons. Tell Ss that you
are confident they will master this with ease as they
already use independent clauses in their speaking and
writing everyday.

Before beginning the lesson, write the words independent

and dependent on the board and have students discuss
what these two words mean. Discuss as a class, noting
how the prefix in alters the meaning of depend.

IV. Instruction and Modeling*

What is the teacher doing?

A.What are you going to teach
and how? (Will you provide
relevant information, model
thought processes, establish
guides or graphic organizers,
B.How will you differentiate
instruction? (small groups,
guided math, guided reading,
guided writing, literature circles,
C..How long will each activity
D. Consider Blooms
Taxonomy/Ask good questions
(Knowledge, Understanding,
Application, Analysis, Synthesis,
E. Consider Newmanns Rigor


Begin instruction by writing the word clause on the board

and defining for students.

Clause: A clause is a group of words that has both a subject

and a predicate.

Predicate: Normally just the verb of a sentence without any

of the words that modify it.

Ex: My mom went to the store.

Read the definitions to the students and think out loud about
how each definition is related to your example
sentence. Stress that the important thing for students to
know is that a clause is something that has both a subject
and a verb. Prompt a few example sentences from
students and identify the subject and predicate.

V.Guided Practice
What are the students doing?
A.What will students do to
interact and practice the subject
B. How will you differentiate
C.What sorts of groupings will
you use?
D.How long will each activity

VI. Independent Practice


Tell students that we find independent clauses on their own

in simple sentences just like the ones we just used as
examples. Tell students that we also find them in complex
sentences that use coordinating conjunctions

Add now to your original sentence: My mom went to the

store, but she forgot to buy milk.

Model finding the two independent clauses in that sentence

and locating the coordinating conjunction. Chorally remind
students the meaning of an independent clause subject
and predicate.

Practice adding an independent clause to your original

example sentences and work until students seem

( 5-7 Minutes)

Tell students that within English there are two different types
of clauses; dependant and independent. Write the definition
for each on the board:

Independent clause: Contains a subject and a verb and

expresses a complete thought. *It can stand alone as a

Dependant Clause: Contains a subject and a verb but does

not express a complete thought. *It cannot stand alone on
its own.*

Ex: Shirly was tired when she got back from Tahoe.

Talk through example with students, emphasizing how the

subordinating conjunction when is a good clue that the
clause the follows it is dependent.

It might be helpful to make a list of other subordinating

conjunctions too (chart paper?):

till ( or 'til)


as if
in order that
as long as

as much as
now that
as soon as
provided (that)
as though
so that


even if

even though

Remind Ss that you will always be able to find the

independent clause by identifying the subject and
VIII. Closing the Lesson

(22 minutes)
Have Ss turn to their partner and tell how to find the
independent and dependent clauses in a sentence. Review
responses, then tell students that we will use what they
practiced this week to learn about a new type of

1. What went well?

2. What would you change?

3. What needs explanation?

Students did well using

their conjunction charts to
locate the dependent clause
of each sentence. In
general letting students
highlight or cut sentences or
apart helped solidify
understanding and was a
great motivator.

I would spend more time

preteaching the ideas of
independent and dependent,
either through whole class
examples or even physical
movements around the class
(independent students move
freely, dependent students
somehow). While many
students understood the
concept in theory, in
practice many students still
mixed up which was the
indpendent and dependent

The difference between

independent and
dependent. Reinforcing
this concept using multiple
measures from the outset
and having students always
start by finding the
independent clause first
might help with this.