5 Engaging Activities For Learning Independent And Dependent Clauses

No doubt, Students find classroom activities interesting and exciting. Through these activities, it is easy for teachers to make them understand even complex topics easily. Learners often find English grammar confusing, especially when it comes to clauses. Defining independent and dependent clauses and giving many examples may not always yield the desired result. In such situations, classroom activities can come to your rescue.

Here we have prepared a list of a few such activities that you can engage the children in and make them better understand the concept. But before we do that, let us briefly revisit independent and dependent clauses.

What are independent and dependent clauses?

In a sentence, there can be two parts linked by a conjunction. In such cases, one part of the sentence becomes meaningful only with the help of the other part. The former is the dependent clause, and the latter is independent.

For example, in the sentence, ‘After I woke up in the morning, I found a frog sitting on me,’ the part ‘I found a frog sitting on me’ is not dependent upon the part ‘After I woke up in the morning.’ But if we look from the opposite, the first part does not have any meaning unless we add the second part, i.e., ‘I found a frog sitting on me.’ So, this part is the independent clause, and ‘After I….morning’ is the dependent clause.

Interactive Independent and Dependent clauses activities for the classroom

To help you with developing some exciting activities for the classroom, we have a few ideas listed in the following. Hope these help!

1. Matching sentence strips

Independent and dependent clause activity

You will need:

  • Colorful sugar paper
  • Black construction paper
  • Coloring pens
  • Scissors, glue, etc.

You will do the following:

  • Write sentences on the sugar paper so you can cut those sentences into two halves- the independent clause and the dependent clause.
  • Write various sentences on various colored papers to make them look attractive.
  • On the black construction paper, stick the starting portions of the sentences on the left and the last parts on the right.
  • Do this for all the sentences. You will have two columns of sentence fragments on the construction paper.
  • In the classroom, hang it on the board or place it on the wall with tape.
  • Give the coloring pens to your students and call them one by one. Ask them to draw a line connecting fragment one with fragment two.


Paste “We are having” on the left side and “pizza for dinner” on the right. There will be other options also jumbled up on the list. The student’s task is to match these two fragments and form the sentence, ‘We are having pizza for dinner.’

2. Team game of identifying clauses

Team game of identifying clauses

You will need:

  • A children’s storybook (check once if there are sentences with enough independent and dependent clauses)
  • Photocopies of selected passages
  • Blue and green pen
  • Timer

You will do the following:

  • Make groups of five children.
  • Distribute the photocopies of the selected passage from the book among the groups (one copy for each team).
  • Now give them the blue and green coloring pens.
  • Ask them to read the passage and mark the independent clauses in green and dependent clauses in blue.
  • Set the timer for five minutes.
  • Instruct the teams to finish marking the clauses within five minutes.
  • Those who finish correctly and submit before everyone win.

3. Balancing the clauses

Independent and dependent clause activity

You will need:

  • Toy pan balance
  • Small building blocks of the same size and weight
  • Colorful papers
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Coloring pens

You will do the following:

  • Write fragments of sentences on colorful paper and cut them into various shapes, like rectangles, circles, triangles, etc. (this is only to attract the kids; the shape does not matter here).
  • Attach the small building blocks on the back of the papers containing the sentence fragments with glue.
  • In the classroom, distribute the sentence fragments among the students and place the toy pan balance in the middle.
  • Now ask one student to put one fragment on one pan, for example, the dependent clause part of the sentence.
  • This will make the pan balance weigh down on that side due to the weight of the building block.
  • Ask which student can put the scale back to the balanced condition.
  • The student with the right fragment, for example, the independent clause part, will put it on the other pan.
  • Due to equal weight on both sides, the pan balance will remain straight.
  • This way, you can teach them how both parts of the sentence balance it out.

4. Clause partners

 Clause partners

You will need:

  • Small pieces of paper
  • Pen

You will do the following:

  • Take a piece of paper and write, “While I was doing my homework” on it.
  • Take another piece of paper and write, “my pet dog sat in front of me.”
  • Write a few more sentences in this manner (estimate how many such sentences you will need by counting the number of children in your class).
  • Distribute these among the children so that half of the class gets independent clauses and the rest gets dependent clauses.
  • After that, ask the children to find their partners, i.e., those who complete their sentences meaningfully.
  • Once they have found their partner, ask them to read the complete sentence loudly and check if they have got it right.

5. Make a team of three with clauses and connectives

Make a team of three with clauses and connectives

You will need:

  • Paper
  • Pen

You will do the following:

  • Write some dependent clauses on a few pieces of paper.
  • Write some independent clauses on another set of papers.
  • Now prepare another set of papers with coordinating conjunctions written on them.
  • Divide the students of your class into three groups, each containing the same number of students, and name them A, B, and C.
  • Give group A the dependent clauses, B the conjunctions, and C the independent clauses.
  • Now ask them to find which student from group B can form a full sentence with two students from groups A and C (one from each).
  • This way, they will recognize the clauses and conjunctions that can join the two clauses to form a new complete sentence.


Suppose one child from group A has “watering the plants.” Another child from group B has “while.” Lastly, a child from group C has, “I found a snail.” So, these three children can come together to form a sentence, “I found a snail while watering the plants.”

Few other activities you can try

Apart from the five we mentioned above, you can further exercise your creative skill and come up with new ideas for independent and dependent clauses classroom activities. Some of these might include:

  • Make a clause clock where you will write independent and dependent clauses underneath the numbers. Place them so that you can ask the children to show a particular time on the clock by moving the clock’s hands, and you get a complete sentence. For example, if there is “We will walk around the park” under 12 and “after the rain stops” under 6, you can ask the children to make 12:30 on the clock. As they do so, they will get the sentence, “We will walk around the park after the rain stops.”
  • Draw a table with two columns on a blank sheet of paper. Give headings to these columns- Independent Clause and Dependent Clause. Now, give each child in the class this sheet and a set of ten sticky notes. On each of these notes, write examples of independent and dependent clauses. Ask the students to stick the sticky notes in the appropriate column.

How exactly do these activities help in learning clauses?

Engaging the children of your class in these above activities will benefit them in various ways. Such as,

  • These activities will motivate them to learn the topic more by heart.
  • By finding the counterparts of the sentences from amongst their friends, the children will learn to pay attention and concentrate more on what would complete their sentences.
  • Participating in the activities will increase their engagement in the complete learning process. Thus, they will always memorize what they learn from these activities.
  • The activities we mentioned above involve all the children of a class. So, when a child is looking for a student with the other sentence fragment or the conjunction, they socialize with everyone. This shapes their personality and communication skill also.
  • Engaging them in these activities will let you clear off the class’s monotony.
  • As the students come up with correct answers and you encourage them, they become more confident.

Wrapping up,

These activities can potentially increase the children’s thirst for knowledge and, at the same time, help them remember what they learn in a fun and exciting way. When the kids are involved in such activities they find learning entertaining and enjoyable and without even realizing it, they learn the basics of English grammar. These basic lessons are important as they will always need these grammar elements in the future, be it sentence framing or writing essays.

Now that you have some ideas from us, we hope you engage your children in the most productive way possible.

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