Diagramming Puzzles

Do you have a child that is struggling with diagramming sentences?  Here’s an activity to help them see that this is really like a puzzle, putting all the pieces in the right places.

How to Set it Up

  • On a piece of paper, make a “template” diagram.  You can just have lines or you can label (as I have) what goes on each line.  We are doing only simple sentences now, so I have a place for subject, with one adjective, a helping verb, an intrasitive verb, one adverb, and one prepositional phrase.
  • Write a few sentences, with words spaced out, onto strips of paper.
  • Cut out each word.
  • I took a sentence and changed it from declarative, to imperative, to interrogative.  I wrote out each sentence and cut them out.
  • Have students see the sentences first in order by sentence.  Then, they place each word on to the diagram template.  Every word has a spot on the diagram.  However, not every sentence will have everything on the template.  Every sentence must have a subject and a main verb.

Some advantages of diagramming puzzle style:

  • There is no worry of spelling mistakes or punctuation mistakes.
  • There is no erasing.  If you make a mistake, just move the piece to the correct spot.
  • There is no accidentally forgetting to put a word into the diagram.  All words have a spot to go.


After simple sentences are mastered, you could add to these sentences. Add a clause, modifiers, or a direct object.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: