12 November 2013

Day 33 / 103 - IEW Sentence Openers

One of the stylistic techniques taught in the IEW program is Sentence Openers.  In my few years of using this program, I have found that by modifying the way a sentence reads, it leads to more powerful and effective writing.  Obviously, most children write sentences that read subject-verb-object.  IEW helps them to naturally program in different ways to open a sentence -- for example with a prepositional phrase or a clausal opener.

I have been working on this technique over the past few weeks with my own children and their Essentials class.  Today, we completed this easy activity.

We started with a boring sentence.  The one pictured above is -- The dragon went to the tea party.  We then dressed it up with a couple quality adjectives, a stronger verb, and an adverb and had our first sentence with a subject opener.  Then we began to modify and rewrite the sentence based on the following openers.  The second opener is prepositional, so I had my children thinking through when or where this event might have taken place in order to open their sentence with a prepositional phrase. The third one opens the sentence with an adverb.  The fourth (which I find the trickiest) is opening the sentence with an -ing verbal phrase.  This requires the subject to be completing two different actions and does require some thinking on the child's part.  The fifth one is a clausal opener (beginning with a subordinating conjunction -- when, while, where, etc.) so another subject and verb are needed in the dependent clause of the sentence.  Again, more thinking required.  You can see my son's work above, and my daughter's posted below.

Another tip that I have learned from my years in the program is that in order for a child to quickly come up with a preposition or an adverb or a subordinating conjunction, it helps to have a plethora of words in front of them.  Giving them the right tools makes the job so much more manageable.  And, like everything else, repetition is key.  The more I complete this activity with my children, the more naturally they write this way.



  1. Thank you for the great tips on IEW! We are getting ready next year to take it on! So helpful to have veteran Moms share their experiences and insights! Thanks for linking-up today! Blessings -Colleen

  2. Thank you for the great idea. We haven't done very well with sentence openers this year. ( our first year in Essentials) We have just started taking a sentence and changing the purpose. It will be good to add to that routine and practice the openers. I am going to try doing this with one sentence every day now. Thanks.

  3. Thank you for all of your great ideas for Essentials, Anne! I shared this one on the January round-up of the CC Blog Carnival!

  4. Thank you! I will use it this week with my daughter. I have been so impressed with IEW I bought Iew's Bible Heroes for my 1st grader and Fantasy, Fables and Fairy Tales for my 3 rd grader to start using this semester. Have you tried IEW for younger kids? Any recommendations? Thanks again!

    1. You're welcome.
      I haven't tried any of IEW's other curriculum. I always meant to, but never got around to it. ;) I have friends who swear by them though !!
      However, my recommendations would be get them in the habit of Key Word Outlining, adding Dress-ups, and beginning to learn the Sentence Openers.
      Good luck !!

  5. Thanks! We have had the IEW program sitting on the shelf for years. I am a math person so writing is hard for me. We are finally working through the process together. I am actually finding it fun. :-)