As I talked about in the last grammar post, learning about grammar can be fun the Montessori way. The shapes and colors of the grammar symbols help the child to remember the different parts of speech and their meanings.
In order for the child to begin the study of grammar, there is a fun, beginning activity for each part of speech.
Take a look!
Noun: For this noun lesson, you’ll need some small objects and slips of paper. Show the child(ren) the objects and have them say the names. Write the names down on the pieces of paper and match them to the correct object. Tell the children that nouns are “naming words”. They name people, places, things, and ideas.
Article: You’ll need about six objects, some singly (one button) and some in quantities (four paperclips). Make sure at least one object starts with a vowel and that you have several of that object (apples, erasers). Then write “a”, “an”, and “the” on slips of paper.
Show the child how to match them correctly: when there is one of an item (one button), you use “the” button. When there’s a group of objects (four paperclips) and you want to single out one, you use “a” paperclip. When there’s an object (one of several) that starts with a vowel sound you use “an” apple.
Let them know that “the” is a definitive article because it points out a definite object. “A” and “an” are indefinite articles because they not clearly specify which item you are indicating.
Adjective: Once a child has successfully worked with nouns and articles, they are ready to learn the function of an adjective. Gather a group of objects (several toy cars, several pencils) that each have a different color. Ask the child(ren) to hand you a car.
The child may hesitate, unsure of which car you want, so you can say, “I will use a special word to help describe the car I want. Please hand me the yellow car”. Explain that adjectives are describing words.
Verb: You can write simple verbs on slips of paper and ask the child to demonstrate them (“hop”, “walk”). Tell them that this type of word is an action word, known as a verb. The verb adds the life, or energy, to the sentence.
A second, similar lesson has you taking one object (ball) and giving the children slips of paper with action words. They take the ball and apply that action to it, e.g., “lift” the ball, “hide” the ball, “push” the ball, “roll” the ball, etc. Again, the idea is that energy (verb) is being applied to matter (noun).
Adverb: Write a command on a slip of paper, like “walk”. Give it to the child and ask them to do it. Then add the word “slowly” and ask them to do it. Then write “walk quickly”, have them do it, and give them a few more examples (“walk proudly”, “walk tiredly”).
Tell them that the adverb modifies the verb in the same way that an adjective modifies a noun. It adds meaning to the verb.
Conjunction: Have the children write some noun phrases (“the big chair”, “the green couch”, “a tiny kitten”). Then write “I saw” and put that in front of the noun phrases. Have the child try to read the sentence. They will have difficulty. Write “and” on two slips of paper and put them in between the noun phrases. The sentence will now read:
I saw the big chair and the green couch and a tiny kitten.
Remove the first “and” slip and turn it over. Explain that instead of saying “and” over again, the first “and”s can be replaced with a comma. Write a comma on the slip of paper and put it back in the sentence. Now the sentence should read:
I saw the big chair, the green couch and a tiny kitten.
[Aside: if you, like me, are a fan of the serial comma – the comma before the last “and” in a series – you can add one there as well].
Explain to the kids that “and” is a conjunction; it joins together phrases and clauses to make sentences.
Preposition: The most basic way to introduce prepositions is to set a chair in front of the children. Ask one child to get up and stand “behind” the chair. Then ask them to get “on” the chair. Have another child get up and go “under” the chair.
Continue until everyone has had a chance to demonstrate some prepositions (over, next to, beside). Explain to them that words that tell us the relationship of one thing to another are called prepositions.
Pronoun: Write a sentence that uses the same noun over and over. For example, “Dana gave Dana’s dog a treat and then went to Dana’s room”. Then read the same sentence but replace the name with a pronoun. “Dana gave her dog a treat and then went to her room”. Explain that the pronoun often takes the place of a noun in a sentence.
Interjection: Give the children a few examples of interjections: “Go!” “Stop!” “Oh?” Tell them that we use interjections to express strong feelings. An interjection is a one-word sentence. Explain that punctuation marks are very helpful in emphasizing the emotion of an interjection.
These simple games rely on the child’s own experience with words (and types of words) so that they can differentiate the parts of speech. Give them a try!