Mentor Texts and Mentor Sentences - Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom

Mentor Texts and Mentor Sentences

I have a problem slight obsession with books. I LOVE reading to my kiddos, and I love for my kiddos to WANT to get books from my class library to read. 2 years ago, I did a class library inventory and put them into an Excel spreadsheet with location (if it was on my shelf or their shelf- I still have some that are "mine") and reading level. My intention was to add to it everytime I got new books, and I did for a while... but I haven't kept up with it... and the thought of going through all my books again to figure out which ones aren't in the spreadsheet makes me break out in hives. There are 977 listed on the spreadsheet, but I've gotten many more since then through book orders and book fairs and Amazon orders... 

The books that are "mine" are the ones I use for lessons. I like to use books as mentor texts- books I can refer to for many lessons over a period of time. Sometimes, I read the book more than once, but usually, I read it once and then can just refer to a few pages later since the students are already familiar with it. This saves on time and keeps my lessons true "mini-lessons."

I say all this because I'm linking up with Collaboration Cuties today to share how I use Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs in my classroom as a mentor text.


This is such a fun book and YES it can be used in upper grades!!

I use it for a week in Reading, Writing, and Grammar using the skills listed above. I have a unit in my TPT store you should check out if you are interested in using it, too!

One thing that is not included in the unit is how I use this book during grammar time (although there is an activity in the unit identifying parts of speech). I don't teach grammar explicity very often. I use Jeff Anderson's method of Mentor Sentences. (Have you ever seen him speak? Oh my gosh, he is hysterical and so full of information!!) I lift a sentence from my mentor text and I use it as an example of whatever skill I want them to focus on that week. The idea is that the students are seeing excellent sentences instead of sentences full of mistakes trying to figure out what's wrong, which hopefully will transfer to their writing, as well. I HAVE seen my students imitate the authors in their own writing, which makes me so happy!

For this book, I chose a complex sentence (the book is full of them!) for the students to study.

"By the time they woke up in the morning, breakfast was coming down."

On the first day with the sentence, the students try to figure out why I've chosen this sentence in particular. They might notice (among other things) that the sentence is in past tense, there are prepositional phrases, and hopefully, that it is a complex sentence!

We focus on the fact that it's a complex sentence all week and they look for sentences in their own reading that has the same style, and during "grammar time," we also work to notice parts of speech in the sentence (like adverbs: up and down; prepositions: by, in; verbs: woke, was coming; etc), we revise the sentence one day (they have to figure out how to make the sentence EVEN better- usually by adding adjectives or changing verbs), and they also try to imitate the sentence (in this case, they write their own complex sentence with the subordinating conjunction coming at the beginning of the sentence so that there is a comma separating the two clauses, and they also try to incorporate adverbs and prepositional phrases since the author did). At the end of the week, there is a quiz over what we worked on all week.

Click here or on either of the images below to download for free and try mentor sentences in your own class! The first page is so they can glue the sentence into their journals- they fill up that page over the course of the week with the work we do with that sentence.
I hope this is helpful to you! I've said I was going to share how I use mentor sentences in my room, and something else always comes up. I plan on doing another post this week (FOR REAL!) with a new mentor sentence showing actual student work so you can really see how it happens in my room! :)

If you want even more IN-DEPTH step-by-step help with implementing mentor sentences, check out my courses!


  1. Please do blog about how you use mentor sentences. I am intrigued. I started using them this year. I had some moderate success, but I really like your "Invitation to Edit".


  2. ^I agree with with Kristin. Start blogging more on mentor sentences. I need all the ideas for next year that I can get and this seems like a good way to tackle grammar.

    Looking forward to reading more!

    Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road

  3. I agree, more on mentor sentences, this is a goal of mine for next year.

    Looking From Third to Fourth

  4. I am loving all of your mentor text posts, since I am a fellow book obsessed gal! I just posted pictures on the cleaning I did last week. Check out the pics of the books on my blog! Mentor sentences need to come to the forefront in order to have our kiddoes writing grammatically correct. Grammar has taken a backseat, so we have to become creative. I am a grammar Nazi (that's what they call me, lol). Taking sentences from texts that we read together is a great way to learn how to write! I like to just type up the entire text of a tradebook (like the exemplar texts for CCSS) and we highlight different sentences (command, questions, etc.), this has helped my firsties tremendously.

    Thanks for all of the great posts!

  5. I would also love to hear more about mentor sentences. =) What a great idea!! A goal of mine is to use more mentor texts and sentences throughout the week. I LOVE this linky party. =)
    Sister Teachers

  6. Thanks for linking up!!!

    Yay for mentor sentences!! :O)

    Light em up, my friend!! ;O)
    Collaboration Cuties

    Oh, and H-bug was watching the movie that goes with this book. It's very different! It could be a great compare/contrast!!

  7. I've never heard of mentor sentences before but love the concept. Thank you!

  8. This gets me inspired to go buy more books. That is definitely one thing lacking in my classroom since this is my first year teaching elementary school. I love your ideas though!

    My Journey to 5th Grade

  9. I love the mentor sentences too! I don't teach grammar in isolation either, we have a big writing test, so I incorporate grammar during my writing lessons. I have this book and have never used it as a mentor text-so excited! Thanks for sharing! I also appreciate how detailed your post was! Very clear! You're amazing!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  10. Love the idea of using mentor sentences. Thanks for sharing!
    Diving into 2nd Grade

  11. I used my first mentor sentence today with my 5th graders from the book, Flush, by Carl Hiassen. By the end of lesson I had a few student who wanted the book so they could find out what happened after that sentence!! HA!

    Can't wait to see how the rest of the lessons go!



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