Sentopiary is a digital sentence diagramming tool with 120 challenge sentences and a large library of words. Rather than drawing progressively more complicated tree diagrams with various parts of speech branching off, Sentopiary groups words into phrases, such as noun phrases, verb phrases, and prepositional phrases. Kids can practice identifying parts of speech within the context of these phrases, which are themselves within sentences. Kids can also create their own sentences using these grammatical phrases.
How to Diagram a Sentence
Sentopiary has two modes of play: sentence creation and sentence challenges. In creation mode, kids select a series of different grammatical categories, each of which opens a library of potential words. For example, kids might start a sentence with a "noun phrase" and select "cat" from the library. Within the library, kids can tap for a definition and an example of that part of speech. Next, kids can choose "verb" and select "meows." (Kids can add "The" to their sentence before "cat" by selecting "article" within the noun phrase.) Deft diagrammers can increase their level of difficulty to get access to a wider variety of grammatical categories. Kids can take screenshots within the app to save their favorite creations.
In challenge mode, kids are presented with sentences and must match grammatical phrases and parts of speech to the words. When kids succeed, all the words wiggle on the page. There are 30 sentences at each of the four levels, which progress in difficulty and grammatical variety, similar to the creation mode.
Great Grammar Practice, but….
Sentopiary is helpful for reinforcing parts of speech and seeing how phrases fit together. Kids can recognize patterns, including that articles tend to come before nouns or that nouns can also be pronouns. By having kids create their own sentences using these same patterns, Sentopiary also reinforces kids' understanding of the phrases in their own grammatical toolboxes. The levels naturally progress in difficulty, and the challenge mode provides plenty of practice. Kids will enjoy the ability to create silly sentences.
Misses Opportunities for Learning
However, it's important to realize that Sentopiary doesn't teach grammar or parts of speech, and it doesn't try to make grammar into a game. Rather, Sentopiary is a tool to reinforce what kids are already learning in school. In addition, since the error message is the same whether kids have made a mistake or simply not made a selection, kids may have trouble learning without assistance.
More importantly, even as the sentences increase in difficulty, the order of parts of speech in the challenge sentences stays almost constant. Varying sentence structure is what confuses kids most when they're learning about grammar and parts of speech. By keeping the structure similar throughout the challenge sentences, Sentopiary really misses an opportunity to help kids move beyond pattern recognition and truly apply their understanding of grammar.
Sentopiary is best for visual learners studying grammar who need extra practice. Working alongside a teacher or tutor, kids can also use Sentopiary as a diagnostic tool to identify their abilities to recognize and employ different parts of speech.
This Sentopiary app review was written by Liz K. McKinney.
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