Today, we’re going to look at some fun grammar extensions that can be done inexpensively, using the grammar materials you already have or common items from around your classroom. I like the sound of that! I’ve also included some recommendations for helpful story books about grammar.
These lessons combine two or more parts of speech together, to show the relationship between them. All you need is the grammar symbols.
Article/Adjective/Noun: Show the child the three triangles that make up the noun family: article, adjective, noun. This family is used in almost every sentence we say or write. They can think of a few “article, adjective, noun” phrases.
Verb/Adverb: Show the child an verb symbol (large red circle) and then take an adverb symbol (smaller orange circle) and have the adverb orbit around the verb. This demonstrates how the verb and adverb often go together, with the adverb bringing additional meaning to the verb.
Noun/Verb: The last combined presentation is that of the noun and the verb. The child is shown an object and asked to name it (pick something simple, like a book or pencil). Then ask them to perform a task (jump, hop). See if they can tell you the difference between the two: nouns can be seen and felt, verbs can be acted out.
These can be played with each part of speech, either when it’s first introduced to the children or later as a review. All you need is an envelope and some small pieces of paper. Write the name of the part of speech on the envelope (“pronoun”) and ask children to think of different words that fit this category. Write the words on small pieces of paper and put them in the envelope.
Keep the grammar envelopes in the language section of the room and encourage kids to add to them every time they think of a word that fits the specific category. You can periodically take the envelopes off the shelf and go through them with the children to look at the words they’ve added.
Older children (8-12, depending on ability), can make envelopes and labels that divide the parts of speech even further:
Nouns: common or proper nouns, places, things, ideas, or masculine and feminine nouns
Articles: definitive and indefinite
Adjectives: proper, predicate, demonstrative, comparative, and superlative
Verbs: states of being (“are”, “is”) and action verbs (“jump”, “swim”)
Adverbs: manner, place, time, frequency, degree
Prepositions: place, direction, and time
Conjunctions: coordinating, subordinating, correlative, and conjunctive adverb
Triangle Detective Game
The material for this exercise can be purchased (it includes many triangles of different types and colors) but you can also simply cut out a few different triangles using different colors of paper.
Spread out all the triangles on a rug or table. Tell the child you only want one of the triangles. Ask them to give you one and see if they guessed correctly. Write “the triangle” on a piece of paper. They will give you one, but it’s the wrong one. Now write “the small triangle”.
Continue until you have written something very specific, like “the small, red, isosceles, right triangle”. The child can clearly see how using adjectives gives us the information we need to distinguish one thing from another.
Gather some small objects. Write a few different prepositions on pieces of paper. Have the child arrange the objects to illustrate the preposition. For instance, in my preposition box I have a tiny house and a miniature hedgehog. The child might put the hedgehog in front of the house and set out the words “in front of”. They can then write it as a sentence, i.e. “The hedgehog is in front of the house”.
Reading About Grammar – Some Great Books
There’s a fun series of books called “Words Are Categorical” that illustrate the different parts of speech. Written by Brian P. Cleary, they are available through Scholastic as well as at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com. The zany illustrations and bouncy rhymes do a great job of helping kids remember the parts of speech and their functions. He also has books about synonyms, homonyms, and other word groups.
There’s a lovely series of books by Ruth Heller (yes, the author of all the “Designs for Coloring” books) about the parts of speech. The entire series is called “World of Language” and includes such titles as Luscious Lollipops (adjectives) and Kites Sail High (verbs). They are available at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com. eBay is also a great place to buy used books cheaply; just make sure you check the seller’s feedback and the shipping costs.
This is the last installment of the grammar series; I’ve had a great time and plan on doing many of these lessons with my son. We’ve done the introductory grammar work but not the extensions in this post – hope you’re able to use some of them too!