Lesson plan

Add Rhythm to Your Writing with Sentence Pattern Variation

Some say that variety is the spice of life. In writing this is true as well. Students will learn to vary sentence patterns in their writing to give their pieces cadence and rhythm.
SubjectView aligned standards

Students will be able to identify and create simple, compound, and complex sentences.

(15 minutes)
  • Project the top half of Three Sentence StructuresAnd briefly go over the three kinds of sentences. This should be review.
  • Hand out a photocopied page from a favorite class novel or maybe your current read-aloud. Divide the class into three groups: A, B, and C.
  • Ask group A to underline and count the number of simple sentences on the page.
  • Ask group B to underline and count the number of compound sentences on the page.
  • Ask group C to underline and count the number of complex sentences on the page.
  • When groups are done, select one person from each group, one by one, to come to a projector and highlight their group's sentences in a certain colour.
  • Have the other two groups do the same with different colors, so that the short, medium, and long sentences are highlighted with different colors.
  • Ask students to make observations about the colored page. What do they notice?
(15 minutes)
  • Explain that authors do something called Sentence Pattern VariationOr SPV. When an author sprinkles in different kinds of sentences, they know it makes the language more rhythmic and interesting.
  • In order to vary your sentence pattern you have to understand the basic sentence structures.
  • Distribute the worksheet Find the Sentence Patterns. Go over the instructions and do the activity together.
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute the worksheet Three Sentence Structures. Go over the instructions and do the activity as a class, making sentences together in pairs and/or independently. Finally, share them.
(30 minutes)
  • Distribute Mix it Up! Making Varied Sentences. Go over the instructions and have students work in pairs or independently to write a short story with varied sentence patterns as outlined in the directions.
  • Share story examples.


  • Start the story together, going step by step. Review one kind of sentence and generate some examples together while students create their own on their papers. Do this sentence by sentence.


  • Have students examine a book they are reading independently for sentence pattern variation. Have them draw some conclusions about how that author uses sentence pattern variation (SPV).
(10 minutes)
  • Three-sentence stories: Have students work in groups of three. Together, they should generate a story of only three sentences: one simple, one compound, and one complex. Share out a few examples. Have the class determine if they correctly generated a story with one of each.
(5 minutes)
  • Discuss: What would reading be like if every sentence had the exact same structure?

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