Grammar: we’d be kidding ourselves (and… well… the kids) if we didn’t admit that it can sometimes feel like a bit of a dry subject.
However, teaching the class to tame their work with full stops and apostrophes is necessary in order to access more colourful activities; creative writing, poetry and other written arts that are fun to teach, fun to learn and can spark a lifelong passion for literacy.
In the meantime, we’re tasked with making grammar lessons engaging – but it doesn’t need to be arduous. Here’s our top four grammar games to turn dull lessons into dazzlers.
1. Phone a friend
Proficient in their use since they were eighteen months old (or it certainly seems like it), few shiny objects draw in a child’s attention like a mobile phone. Love it or loathe it, your class were probably raised on mobile technology – and you spend a fair chunk of your time keeping it out of the classroom.
However, there are ways to indulge this attachment for an educational purpose – albeit not with the ‘real deal’.
Try printing out some images of mobile phones with a blank screen.
Ask the children to write a message on the screen, perhaps about a given a subject. They can then pass the phone to a friend, who “receives” the text, and can reply with their own writing.
For more structure, add your own grammar themes that the children should work into their phone conversation; for example, using persuasive language to invite a friend over for tea.
2. Guess who
There’s nothing like spicing up a literacy lesson with some art!
Ask the class to draw a picture of a friend (but shhhh – keep ‘who’ it is a secret!).
To help the class guess who the portrait represents, the children should write some adjectives around their picture to describe the friend they have drawn. They’ll know that it’s a job well done if the rest of the class can ‘guess who’!
3. Touchy feely
Tactile learning activities help to cement new ideas – and luckily enough, they’re pretty fun, too.
To start a tactile grammar game, write the words ‘noun’, ‘adjective’ and ‘verb’ on the whiteboard in separate columns. For extra emphasis, you can use a different colour for each section.
Next, a child will pull a mystery item out of a box.
Using the relevant columns on the whiteboard, they can then write the name of said item, describe what it feels like and also what they can do with it.
The next job will be to transcribe their sentences onto paper, with the columns on the board helping the class to further understand how a sentence is put together.
4. Stop with a sticker
If the class can’t quite get the hang of full stops, a bit of positive reinforcement goes a long way – especially if the children hesitate to use them in the first place.
Instead of the usual pencil dot, sit with a small group of children at a time and use stickers to demonstrate where full stops should sit in their writing. Not only will the children be keen to use full stops when they know there’s a sticker involved, you can support their learning by letting them know where the sticker should be appropriately used.
Give the children a chance to practice a few times. Once they can demonstrate that they know where a full stop would be, give them a sticker to keep and remind them of their achievement!
Looking for more ideas to engage your primary class with grammar? Take a look at Mighty Writer. With its fun and tactile method of teaching children to write, it’ll transform the literacy skills of your class almost overnight. Register for a free 14-day trial to find out for yourself!
About the author
Emma Ralph was an Assistant Head Teacher at Hillbourne Primary School in Poole, where she helped to improve the school’s literacy standards. Spotting a gap in the market for a literacy resource which taught children the fundamentals of punctuation, vocabulary and sentence structure in a visual, fun and engaging way, Emma developed her own product: Mighty Writer. It is now transforming the literacy of tens of thousands of children in over 550 schools around the world.