Every subject area has that one topic that is particularly difficult to keep students interested in. Grammar might just be that topic in ELA. Even educators who love teaching grammar can have a hard time keeping students focused. The rules and irregularities of the English language can be confusing to students and traditional teaching strategies, such as sentence diagramming or editing examples, can be boring and disengaging.
Fortunately, grammar doesn’t have to be taught in the tedious, dry traditional methods. Curriculum writers can develop interesting, fun activities that keep students attentive. Here are six examples of fun ways to teach grammar.
Hot (Grammar) Potato
This is a fun game requiring quick thinking and quick hands, and can be a whole-class or small group activity. The teacher chooses a category, such as verbs, and gives a small ball (or other easy to pass item)—the “hot potato”— to a student. The teacher plays music or sets a timer and, while the music plays, the student with the hot potato must shout out of an example of the topic and then pass the potato to the next person. Students can’t pass the potato until they call out a correct example, and the student with the potato when the music or timer stops is out. This game can get challenging depending on the difficulty of the topic. Verbs might be easy, but “past perfect” sentences can be a real challenge!
Irregular verbs can be tricky even for grammar sticklers, but a little competition can motivate kids to study them very closely. For this game, students are given an irregular verb and a tense; they must correctly say the conjugated verb, or be eliminated from the bee. The winner is the last student standing. To increase the difficulty of this game, require students to correctly spell the conjugated verb.
A great way to get kids engaged in grammar is to have them develop their own explanations and mnemonic devices to remember a grammar rule; instructors can post them on the classroom walls to remind students of the rules. The sillier or more unique the example, the better. In elementary school, I often misspelled “alot” until my teacher told me that I wouldn’t write “alittle” or “acantelope,” so why would “alot” be correct? Even today, I can’t help but think of a cantaloupe to remind myself to leave a space between the words.
Pop Culture Revisions
Revisions can be tedious, but curriculum writers can spice up the these exercises by either inserting pop culture songs into the curriculum or allowing students to find their own to practice new grammar skills. Not only is this good grammar practice, but it also helps teach students the importance of standard grammar rules in different situations.
This is another competitive game where teachers can keep students together as one group or separate them into teams. The instructor displays a grammatically incorrect sentence for the whole class to see, and students must rewrite the sentence correctly and in the fastest time. This game can be made more interesting by adding many errors to the sentences, or having students come up with their own incorrect sentences for the class to revise.
Physical movement can break up the monotony of a grammar class and re-engage student interest. One way to get students moving is to have them come up with quick skits to showcase a grammar rule. As with the grammar posters, the sillier skits usually stick out, so this is a good opportunity for students to get creative as well as move around the room.
With these easy tips and tricks, curriculum developers can transform tedious grammar instruction into fun lessons. What are some other fun ways to teach grammar?