Sentence Starters

By C.Q.Wilder

June 1, 2014

Sentence starters are very useful for many reasons.

  • They provide children and students with a initial structured response statement or question.
  • They take the pressure off the child or student to understand how to begin their response.
  • They provide consistency for responses and questions.
  • They are a great scaffolding tool to help struggling children and students.
  • They can be used to initiate higher-order thinking to start the child or students thought process to later extend with more questioning.

Before expecting a child to respond  using sentence starters, you must first model these starters and then have the child or student repeat the sentence starter before they answer the question or provide the response. For example, you ask the question, “Why does a bird fly?” You model the response, “A bird flies because……” Do you see how I turned the question into my answer? The child would then say, “The bird flies because it has wings.”

Below, I provided sentence starters for different response categories depending on what the task is at hand.

When asking questions:

  • How is it possible ……
  • Why did ……
  • How does…..
  • How come….
  • I wonder why…
  • I wonder if….

When visualizing or trying to understand a picture or illustration:

  • I can imagine…..
  • I can see….
  • I think that…..

When making predictions or deciding what will happen next:

  • I predict that…….
  • I think that….
  • What I think will happen next is…..
  • If …….. happened, then ………

When tapping into prior knowledge or the information that the student brings to any given setting:

  • This reminds me of….
  • I can relate to …….
  • I know …… because …….
  • I learned about……..that is similar to …….

Connecting to the text:

  • I like this character most because…..
  • I dislike this character most because….
  • I agree/disagree with this character because….
  • I can relate to this character because …..

When bringing about understanding and coming to some sort of meaning:

  • I understand that …….
  • I think this means that….
  • The text/book answers ……
  • The text/book states/says……

When reflecting on the text:

  • The big idea is……
  • I summarize that……
  • The conclusion of this text/book/paragraph is…..

To find more information about other sentence starters, please go to:

  • http://www.lehman.edu/lehman/wac/PDF/SentenceStarters.pdf

Information base was provided by:

Developed by Marcie Wolfe at the Institute for Literacy Studies with input from WAC faculty.

New York City Writing Project, “Monitoring Our Reading.” NY: Lehman College, 2000.
C.B. Olson, The Reading/Writing Connection. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Allyn & Bacon, 2002.
WAC Faculty, Lehman College, Bronx, NY, 2005.