Conjunctions may seem like tiny parts of speech, but they make a big difference when it comes to expressive language goals like syntax, narrative development, and utterance expansion. Let’s take a look at how to make learning about conjunctions fun when kids come to the speech room!
What Are Conjunctions?
While we use conjunctions every day, we probably don’t give much thought to them unless we get that old Schoolhouse Rock jingle stuck in your head! You may not remember specifically what conjunctions are. Basically, conjunctions work to connect words, phrases, or clauses together. Without conjunctions, our sentences would be very simple, such as “I like reading.” “I like spaghetti.” “I like dogs.” Conjunctions give us the ability to form richer, more complex sentences.
The most common conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. You can remember these (and help your students to remember them!) with the acronym FANBOYS. Some conjunctions work together in sentences, such as either/or, neither/nor, and not only/but also. These conjunctions are harder for students to use since they work in pairs and both must be used correctly.
What Goals do Conjunctions Affect?
Conjunctions affect several different types of speech goals. First, they affect utterance expansion. Because conjunctions make sentences longer and more complex, conjunctions are a key part of working on utterance expansion goals.
Second, conjunctions are a big part of goals relating to syntax. Many goals relating to syntax relate to correct word order, correct tense, and using complex and compound sentences. Finally, conjunctions are a part of narrative development. When students can accurately use conjunctions, they can give better answers to “wh” questions and will be able to better elaborate on story features and character relationships.
How to Make Conjunctions Fun!
At first glance, conjunctions may not seem like the most fun thing in the world to work on! However, there are many activities out there that can make working on conjunctions fun for teachers and students. Let’s break down some activities involving conjunctions by goal area.
You can begin by using the conjunctions “and” or “or” to combine two common nouns into a phrase. For example, when given a toy cat and a toy dog, the student will combine the words “cat” and “dog” into the phrase “cat and dog”, or ask you to make a choice with the question “cat or dog?”. By giving the student objects or pictures of objects that are commonly paired together, then they can work on using “and” and “or” to expand their utterances.
Another fun way to work on utterance expansion with conjunctions is to have students find the missing word. If you write a sentence that is missing a conjunction on a sentence strip and then give the student several conjunctions to choose from to complete the sentence, the student can choose the correct conjunction. This sentence can be supplemented with pictures to aid with comprehension. For example, you can give the student the sentence “I was tired ___________ I went to bed”, the student can select between “so”, “but”, and “because” to complete the sentence.
Syntax, or the arrangement of words in a sentence, is another goal area that can be addressed through the use of conjunctions. There are a lot of fun ways to work on syntax! For example, you can cut sentence strips with sentences written on them into beginnings, conjunctions, and endings. Then, students can sort the beginnings, conjunctions, and endings into sentences that make sense. If they are working in a group, they can discuss the sentences and why they do or don’t make sense.
Students can also practice syntax by combining simple sentences into compound ones by using conjunctions. Students can be given two simple sentences, and then choose a conjunction from several different notecards to combine them.
When students are working on goals relating to narrative development, conjunctions come in handy! They help students to add details to “wh” questions, sequence events, and determine cause and effect. Conjunctions are good to know for all of these skills.
When answering “wh” questions, conjunctions such as “and”, “but” and “or” help students give better descriptions when they are answering “wh” questions. Conjunctions like “so” can help students to sequence events and determine cause and effect.
There are a variety of games and activities that students can plan and do to use conjunctions for narrative development. These include:
- Finding a lower reading level text and then practicing using conjunctions to combine simple sentences within the text.
- Using speech-to-text to record and transcribe your student talking. Then you and the student can look at the transcription together and find sentences to combine using conjunctions.
- Having the student revise their own writing using conjunctions.
Need more ideas on how to work on conjunctions in the speech room? Then check out these activities in my TPT store!