The Sentence Game or The Envelope Game


Reading, writing, and grammar practice for any grammar point. Students create sentences from words in an envelope

Materials Needed

  • A number of sentences using the selected grammar point. You will want more sentences than there are lunch groups in the class.
  • One envelope per sentence.
  • One sheet of lined paper per student.
  • A large placeholder card for each group of students that will be placed on the black board. A piece of paper with a number on it, and a magnet on the back will suffice. (optional)



Write down some sentences using the target grammar point. The sentences should be written in rather large print (~24-32pt) so that individual words will be easy to read and handle when you cut the sentence up. The font should not be so big that individual words will not fit in your envelopes.

Take a pair of scissors, and cut up the first sentence in to it's component words. Take the pieces of paper that have the words on them, and write “1” on the back of each. Put the words into an envelope, and label the envelope “1” as well. Repeat this for each sentence. The words of the second sentence should have “2” written on them, and be placed in an envelope labeled “2”, and so on.

When you are finished, you should have a bunch of envelopes, where each envelope has a number on it, and a sentence in it.


Break the class into groups. Lunch groups are easy since the students already know them, but if the lunch groups are too large, you may want the break the class into smaller groups of about 4 students.

Across the top of the board, write all the numbers between 1 and the number of sentences you have. Before the 1, write “Start,” and label the final number “Goal.” Under “Start” put a placeholder card on the board for every group. When you are finished the blackboard should look something like this:

Start | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | Goal




On the teacher's desk, lay out all the envelopes, and give each student a piece of lined paper.

When the game starts, a student from each group will come to the teacher's desk, take an envelope, and return to his group. The students in that group will then empty the envelope on to their desks, and try to put the words in order to make the original sentence. The students should write the sentence down on their paper. One of the students from the group should them come to the ALT or JTE and read the sentence aloud. If the sentence is correct, the student returns the old envelope and takes a new one. The student should also move his group's placeholder forward to the next number on the black board. The first team to move it's placeholder to the goal and finish all the sentences wins.


The placeholder cards on the blackboard are not necessary for this activity, but they help motivate the students by showing them how many problems their classmates have finished. This brings out the competitiveness in the students, and makes them try much harder to solve problems quickly.

You do not have to cut your sentences up word by word. For hard or long sentences, you might want to cut the sentence up into pairs of words or phrases.


Make sure you have more sentences than groups. If you don't, one group will get stuck waiting for another group to finish, so they can take their envelope. Having 2-4 envelopes more than groups is recommended.

Occasionally students might be able to make more than one sentence from the words in the envelope. Keep this in mind when making your sentences and telling students if their sentence is okay or not. Whether alternative sentences are okay or not is your choice.

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