I learnt about this activity in a PD I went to on teaching EAL (English as an Additional Language) students. It is called possible sentences and can be used in reading and writing and also can be modified to be used across all year levels.
It must be used on a familiar topic but it is a great way to introduce new vocabulary to the students. My example is on London and I have used information from Microsoft Encarta to create the example.
Students are given a sheet (or place this on the IWB) that looks like the following:
1. capital city, United Kingdom
2. largest city, Europe
3. population, 8 million people
4. the Queen, lives, Buckingham Palace
5. Westminster Abbey, famous church
6. transportation, the Tube, double-decker buses
Only the key words are provided to the students. Their challenge is to put together a sentence using the exact words on each line. So they will essentially build a paragraph of six sentences based on this example and in sentence one, the must use the words "capital city" and "United Kingdom".
My students really enjoyed this activity and I've used it to teach new vocabulary, to focus on an area of grammar (such as past tense or writing consistently in a tense) and to model what a paragraph should look like for a writing style.
If you find this activity is to easy for some students, you can challenge them by stating that their sentence must start with a particular word. For example, a sentence I would make for line one is: The capital city of the United Kingdom is London. But, if I challenge the students and state that they must start the sentence with the word "United Kingdom", it forces students to change their sentence structure and add in more words to something like this: United Kingdom is a collection of countries, yet, the capital city is located in London, England.
This can also be used at the younger levels by helping students create a sentence by giving them the key vocabulary to use, rather than a paragraph. An EAL strategy but also so useful for language development in native English speakers!