Instruction & Curriculum

The Whos, Whats, Wheres, and Whens of Teaching Grammar to Younger Children

I love to teach grammar to my second graders, and they are usually very eager learners when they figure out that the grammar they are learning ties in to the writing that they enjoy.
I introduce grammar by engaging students in a ‘hunt.’ We are always searching for parts of speech, punctuation and proper sentence structure in everything we do, from independent reading to when I read aloud. By the end of the year, most of my kids are pros at identifying nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and prepositional phrases, along with subjects and predicates. They are also great at writing proper sentences. Here’s how I start out with teaching parts of speech.
I introduce grammar by engaging students in a ‘hunt.’ Click To Tweet
Parts of Grammar
Nouns are persons, places and things. Starting off with just introducing them that way can be difficult for second graders to remember. I link the word ‘noun’ with the question ‘who or what did something?’ It’s much easier for my kids to identify this simple question than the proper definition.
For verbs I do the same thing. I link the word ‘verb’ with the phrase ‘did what’. So now we can link ‘who or what did what’ with subject and predicate.
Adjectives and adverbs are always describing words for the nouns and verbs and prepositional phrases are ‘where and when’ words. I also throw in that a prepositional is anywhere a squirrel can go, just for good measure.
Sentence Structure
One of the most difficult components of teaching grammar in my experience is proper sentence structure. I’m constantly reminding my students that a sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with some kind of punctuation, and it has a who or what word doing something. I give my kids tons of writing opportunities to practice this, from writing sentences with spelling words, to writing journal entries, to writing three sentences about whatever book we’ve just read a portion of or finished, to writing their book reports. I also carry this writing over into our science and social studies, whether it is journal entries or a few sentences home to parents about the experiment we just did.
I also will ‘quiz’ them over parts of speech. For instance if someone asks to go the bathroom I’ll say ‘It will cost you two nouns and a verb.’ I’ll do the same thing when lining up by going down the line and randomly asking kids for nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and prepositional phrases. They actually enjoy this activity, since it is a type of game.
When I have finished reading a section of our storybook out loud I will ask for examples of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and prepositional phrases as well. Since the kids anticipate being asked these questions at the end of our reading, they focus more on listening to what is being read to them, which helps with comprehension as well. They also will identify these parts of speech on their own when they are reading out loud, which I absolutely love to witness.
How do you teach grammar to your younger learners?

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