Ransom Notes

Ransom Notes is a fun way to practice sentence building, especially with younger children.


For homework, simply ask your students to cut out 5 words, at random, from an English language newspaper headline. Tell them they can choose any word they want but ideally they should try to vary the words (i.e. get a noun, verb, preposition, etc…).

Some of the students may well either forget the words or not bring enough, etc…, so you can collect some newspapers in class and have some scissors handy for those who do this.

You will also need a cardboard box and for the lesson, get all the students to put their words into the box. Shake it all up (and add some words of your own – the more the merrier).


Go over sentence formation with the class. Make sure they are familiar with how to build a grammatically correct sentence.

Running the Activity

Split the class into small groups. Now have each member of the group come up and choose two words from the box but without seeing them. When the whole group have their words they must try to build one or more sentences with them using every single word they have. And if they can’t, they need to come back to the box to take another word to add to their stock.

Points can be awarded for the first team to use all their words, the best sentence, the longest sentence, the funniest, etc.

Useful Links

Sentences‏‎ in English Grammar – how sentences are formed.

Parts of Speech‏‎ in English Grammar – all about the main grammar items that help build a sentence.

Posted in Lesson Plans & Activities.

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