Grammar is a subject that is known to make a lot of people ‘zone out’. It is almost never at the top of students’ ‘favourite subjects’ lists and can often be taught in ways that are repetitive or just plain boring. This is likely because English grammar involves so many rules, and repetitive practice is necessary for memorizing rules. That doesn’t mean that it can’t still be fun to learn though! With a little bit of creativity, and this list of ideas to help you get started, you might just be able to spend less time grappling with your children when it comes to grammar lessons and more time enjoying the teaching process.
Use Task Cards
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: task cards are such versatile tools to use with your children, whether at home or in the classroom. They can be used to revise just about any topic and kids find them much more interesting than worksheets. When it comes to grammar, you can use sentence task cards like these to give students a chance to apply the correct punctuation to samples of text.
Fix the Teacher’s Mistake
Talking about making corrections, here’s an interesting fact for you: kids love correcting adults’ mistakes. You can replace ‘the teacher’s mistake’ with ‘mum’s’ or ‘dad’s’ or ‘grandma’s’, but the point is, your children will enjoy correcting ‘mistakes’ that you make when writing. There are two ways you can try this. One is to add mistakes to your writing without telling the kids and seeing if (or more likely, when) they point them out to you. The other option is to tell them that you’ve made some mistakes and need help editing your work. Either way, I’m sure they’ll be very happy to help you out.
Combine with Spelling
Grammar is very closely linked to spelling, and so the two subjects can easily be combined. This is an especially helpful strategy if your child already has negative associations with grammar. By having them complete what they believe is a fun spelling activity with some grammar skills slipped in, they are more likely to stay motivated with the task. One way you can do this is through the use of a Personal Word Wall Book or spelling booklet, as shown below. Every time your child asks you how to spell a word, have them record it in their word wall book. Before they write it down though, ask them to identify whether it should go in the column for nouns, verbs or adjectives. This is something that can be ongoing and only takes a minute or two to fill in.
Reading aloud to children helps them to hear how punctuation influences text. Having them read aloud to you lets you see how well they can follow the signals being given through punctuation. Reading a text aloud together combines both of these skills. Using guided reading passages, such as these Digraph and Blend Passages, is a fun way to incorporate more read-aloud time into your day.
Study a Book
I think that book studies are so much fun, and they always seem to keep children engaged. Not only does having an ongoing book study encourage reading, but it also gives you a reference point for explaining grammar rules. As you are reading through a book together, you have so many opportunities to stop and ask questions about the grammar being used by the author. Not sure which book to start with? Here is a set of resources for some of my favourite books to study with kids.
Don’t Forget to Write!
I’m not just referring to writing letters here, although that could definitely be an option. Whether it’s a letter, a narrative or a book that is all about them, students need to be writing regularly so that they have opportunities to apply the grammar rules they’ve learnt. Pick a fun writing task that you know your children will enjoy, and let them write. Then, go back over it with them to talk about grammar rules. Over time, they will begin to combine these two steps more independently.
I hope you have fun trying some of these grammar activities with your children! Use the links to buy your own copies of the resources I’ve referenced.
Still after some more ideas? Stay tuned for my next post: Vocabulary Matters – Grappling with Grammar Part 2.
Have a question or a request? You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.