Sentence Scramble

In the Sentence Scramble ESL activity, students have to put the words of a sentence in the correct order.

Students for Sentence Scramble ESL Activity:1+Time for Sentence Scramble ESL Activity:10-20 mins
Resources for Sentence Scramble ESL Activity:
Cut-up Sentences

If you’re looking for a tool to create sentence scramble exercises or exam questions, try our online Sentence Scrambler. However, reordering words on physical pieces of paper can be really helpful for lower-level students, so this is the method described here.

Students normally do this activity in groups of two, three, or four. Write/print multiple complete sentences, one copy for each team. Cut the sentences up into individual words (make them reusable if possible).

If the students are beginner level, you should probably separate the words from different sentences (use paperclips to hold them together). For higher levels though you could mix multiple sentences together.

There is also the option of mixing multiple sentences, but organising the words into separate cups/pots depending on their type/role in the sentence (subjects, verbs, auxiliary verbs, objects, nouns, adjectives, articles etc.). This is again good for lower level students, and/or practising parts of speech specifically.

In class, the students sit in their groups at different tables.

  1. Give each group the words from one or multiple sentences.
  2. The students have to order the words on a table in front of them. Make sure you tell them how many sentences there are if you mix more than one together.
  3. When they think they have finished, they put their hands up, upon which you check their sentences.
  4. Optionally, you can turn the Sentence Scramble ESL activity into a game by making it a race. The first team to organise their sentence(s) correctly wins, or wins a point for that round (if playing multiple rounds).
Target Language

The Sentence Scramble ESL game can be adapted to any beginner or lower intermediate level by varying the target grammar and complexity of the sentences. You can use it to familiarise students with any type of language structure and particular ways of speaking (e.g. expressions). It will also help prepare them for common exam questions of this form.

As previously noted, sorting the words by type is a good way to practise parts of speech and their relative positions in a sentence. For a warmer, making the activity a competitive game is a fun option. You could review the grammar you have been learning recently, or present a variety of different language.

For a similar game in which students reorganise the individual letters within words, see Word Scramble.

Got a picture or video of this activity in action? How about snapping one next time you use it? We'd love to showcase your submissions- find out more here.