Confused about clauses? Turn a lesson about independent and dependent clauses into a fun, rainy day game! These cute poetry dice are fun and simple to make—and they pack major educational value. Remember: a clause is an expression that contains both a subject and predicate, but doesn't necessarily express a complete thought. Independent clauses can stand on their own as whole sentences, but dependent clauses cannot. Dependent clauses are headed by a word, called a subordinating conjunction, that joins them to an independent clause. He'll mix and match dependent clauses to independent ones, making silly sentences that get the concept of a clause to stick.
4 or more plain wooden blocks with surfaces of at least 1.5 inches
List of common subordinating conjunctions (after as long as, though, when, etc.)
What You Do:
Have your child make a list of at least twelve independent clauses (e.g. “Tom ate a baked potato”). He should make them all past tense or all present tense. Encourage him to make them as silly as he wants!
Now, have him make a list of at least twelve dependent clauses (e.g. “Because a bird flew over Mexico”). They should all be in the same tense as the independent clauses. Encourage him to work with the list of subordinating clauses and use as many of them as possible.
Check to make sure that all of the dependent clauses are really clauses and not just phrases. He'll probably be able to do this himself with fairly good accuracy by covering up the subordinating conjunction and reading the rest. Does it sound like a complete sentence? If not, ask him to cross it out and write a new clause.
Help him transcribe the independent clauses onto two of the blocks. First write the clauses lightly in pencil first to make sure they fit. Then write over them with the permanent marker.
Next, invite him to transcribe dependent clauses onto two of the blocks. Make sure he doesn’t mix dependent and independent clauses on a single block. The poetry dice won’t work if two dependent clauses come up at once.
Roll one independent clause die and one dependent clause die at a time, and read the combination that results. If you’re working with more than one child, encourage them to combine their sets of dice. The more possibilities you have, the sillier the combinations are likely to be!