Teaching grammar is a subject many homeschooling parents struggle with.
Just how important is it that a child learn exactly what a direct object is, or how to identify a prepositional phrase?
For all children, good writing skills are essential and if they are planning to attend college then sufficient knowledge of grammar is also essential to passing the entry exams such as the ACT or the SAT (required at the time of this post for homeschoolers who are applying as a freshman and have not already accumulated sufficient college credits to apply as a transfer student). However, if a child loves to write or is interested in other languages or cultures, then grammar takes on an added importance. Many foreign languages rely heavily upon understanding exactly how a word is used in a sentence in order to determine the meaning. For example, in Latin a noun will have different endings based upon whether it is the subject, direct object, indirect object, or part of a prepositional phrase. In Spanish, verbs have up to 12 different tenses based on the meaning intended. If the student does not have a solid foundation in English nouns and verbs, they will struggle trying to learn most foreign languages.
There is no need to be discouraged or to rely solely upon grammar textbooks. Grammar can be taught using a variety of methods depending on the learning style of the child. A book-style curriculum may work well for some children, while auditory learners may do better with CD's or putting grammar to music.
Artistic or visual learners may benefit by using white boards with a variety of colored pens. Write sentences on the white board and let the child use the different colors to identify parts of sentences or dissect the various grammatical conventions. (Check out our post on how to construct your own whiteboard.)
Some ideas for games:
Guess the Noun: Make a chart with 4 columns. Label the first column, "adjective"'; the second "verb"; the third "adverb", and the fourth "prepositional phrase". Then have your child think of a noun. Without telling you what it is, have them write an adjective which describes the noun, an action verb that this noun might do, and adverb to tell how the noun performs or does the action, and a prepositional phrase to tell where it does the action. For example, if your chlid picks the noun "dog", he may write down "furry" for the adjective, "runs" for the verb, "quickly" for the adverb, and "through the yard" for the prepositional phrase. It then becomes your job to guess what the noun is. If you have more than one child, they can try to guess each other's nouns. Once the noun has been guessed, create a sentence from the words used, such as, "The furry dog runs quickly through the yard." For extra giggles, try using each others nouns in your own sentence and you may end up with something like, "The furry pencil ran quickly through the yard." You could also buy a madlibs book, but making these games yourself creates long lasting memory of conventions.
Grammar Hop: For the hands-on learner or wiggle worm of your family, this next game will get them hopping! Write down a variety of grammar terms on 3×5 index cards. Examples might include words such as "adjective", "verb", "adverb", "noun", "article", "conjunction" or "preposition". Scatter the cards across the floor with the words facing up. To start the game, shout out a word such as "blue". Your child must identify which part of a sentence this would be, in this case an adjective, and jump onto the appropriate card. If they are correct, shout out another word. Your child must then hop across the cards to the correct one without touching the ground, sort of like stepping stones. If the cards are not that far apart you can have your child jump from their current card to the next answer without taking any steps in between. The faster you go the more fun the game becomes and the better your child is drilled in grammar vocabulary.
Grammar Twister: Create your own grammar twister game. You could use painter tape to tape over the colors on a Twister game mat and spinner and write the grammar terms on the tape. This way the tape is removable when you are finished. Think of some fun ways to "twist" your children into sentences!
What grammar games have you tried? Share them below, on our member forums, or on our Facebook group or fan page.
Additional help on our website for teaching grammar:
But, What About Grammar? – a presentation by Andrew Pudewa