Grammar teaches us to look closer at the construction of a sentence. By understanding the frame of a sentence, we become more enabled to construct better sentences. It is like building a house. If someone handed you a hammer, some nails, and wood, you probably could build something, even if you were never taught how. It might be a leaky house with gaps in the walls that wobbles when you cough, but you probably could build something. Now, if someone showed you how to build a house and mentored you, you would be able to build an even better house. To really hone those carpentry skills, additional practice of what you were shown would let you master the art of building houses. The same goes with writing. While grammar and writing are interconnected, taking time to teach grammar helps your students build better sentences and stronger writing pieces. Extra practice helps them master the craft. Having a firm foundation of grammar also helps students write with confidence. I am going to share three grammar ideas that will help you improve students’ writing. I will also be sharing some free teaching resources to help you get started with using some of these ideas too!
These activities are meant for grammar practice. I do recommend these grammar concepts be taught via a mini-lesson, mentor sentences, or in some other way that models the grammar rule or concept.
Activity #1 Fix the Sentences
Activities that involve students fixing sentences they did not write allows opportunity for them to move away from focusing on creating content and focus solely on the mechanics of a sentence. Not only are they getting extra grammar practice, but this also helps them to develop those much-needed editing skills.
I think it is important for these sentence editing activities to be geared towards their grade range, so I will give some examples for different grade levels. The ideas I suggest connect to the Common Core grammar standards for each primary grade level, but you can always pull from these ideas if you follow different standards.
For kindergarten and the beginning part of first grade, editing sentences can include fixing capital letters at the beginning of sentences, the pronoun I, and the ending punctuation.
For first grade and the beginning part of second grade, you still want to reinforce those elements from editing a kindergarten sentence. However, you can also add the following components once they are familiar with these grammar concepts. Some ideas include editing subject-verb agreements, using articles correctly, capitalizing dates and names of people, using commas in a series, and correcting misspelled words with familiar spelling patterns such as cat or lake.
For second grade, you still want to reinforce the elements from editing kindergarten and first grade sentences. As you dive further into grammar, you may want to add more of the following components. These components can include proper use of irregular plural nouns and past tense verbs, adding commas to compound sentences, separating run-on sentences, capitalizing holidays or product names, using commas in a letter, proper use of apostrophes with contractions and possessive nouns, and correcting spelling errors in words with familiar spelling patterns such as crown and coat.
These sentence activities can come in different formats. The one shown below is in a task card format, but you can also have the sentences on a whiteboard, a worksheet, sentence strips, and more.
Activity #2 Grammar Task Cards
Task cards come in handy when teaching grammar. You can cover just about every grammar concept with a set of task cards. They can be used for playing a game of SCOOT with the entire class, you can pair them with a game board for extra fun, you can use them for exit tickets, give them to early finishers, just use as a set of task cards, and more. Sometimes, you can even add manipulatives, such as counters, to give it a hands-on twist. They are very flexible!
Students can play solo games like Splat or do a Space Race with a friend. I have another post that explains nine different games to use with task cards including these two, so I will link that at the bottom of the post.
Let’s look at the formatting of them too. I really think the format can be beneficial to some of your students with special needs. There is one problem on each task card, so the spacing of it makes it easier for students, who might become overwhelmed with too much on a page, to read and comprehend.
Additionally, it is easy to differentiate to meet student needs by providing grammar task cards that focus on concepts they need to work on at that moment.
When using grammar task cards, I also like to consider the reading levels of the students. It’s important that students focus on the grammar concept without the actual reading of the grammar activity interfering. That way, you do not have to wait until the last half of the year to start teaching grammar. There are just too many grammar standards to cover in a year. You will teach them more efficiently by making sure the reading levels do not block the student’s ability to practice the grammar concept. Just because it is the beginning half of kindergarten, does not mean students are unable to learn about nouns and verbs. With the support of pictures, kindergartners can learn all about basic nouns, verbs, and more.
Later in the year, they can work with sentences that contain simple sight words, CVC words, and picture support.
First graders will be developing their reading skills throughout the year, but grammar can still be taught early in the year by making sure the sentences are basic enough for them to decode easily. Start with sentences with pre-primer and primer sight words, CVC words, CCVC words, and picture support to help students focus on learning the grammar concept. Later in the year, you can move up to using grammar activities with vowel teams, diphthongs, and higher-level sight words. The example below illustrates students finding indefinite pronouns in sentences geared just for first grade.
When it comes to teaching grammar, task cards make it easier to incorporate a variety of engaging activities by including rich content from the task cards, meeting the needs of some of your students with special needs, differentiating instruction, and making sure that reading levels are not interfering with the learning of grammar standards. Task cards are also easy to prep, and you can laminate them for reuse each year too.
Activity #3 Go Digital
Similar to using grammar task cards, digital resources can be used to reinforce grammar concepts too. Just like the task cards, digital grammar activities can also be used for things like a game of SCOOT, exit tickets, early finisher activities, and more. The only difference is you don’t need to prep the task cards. Instead, students will need to be assigned the file, or you can run them as a presentation and let them use a recording sheet, if you do not have an LMS or another system, to keep assignments organized. If you have Google Classroom, assignments are easy to do with a click of the button. Also, you can set-up folders in Microsoft OneDrive if using PowerPoint instead. Office 365 for education is actually free to those with a valid .edu email address. I will provide the link to that below.
An additional benefit of the digital grammar activities is that an anchor chart can be placed at the beginning to reteach the concept to students. For my kindergarten digital grammar activities, I included a video option, since the reading level would be a challenge. When a video is not desired because of a lack of access to headphones, the slide can easily be deleted.
For my second grade grammar activities, a presentation plays instead.
Digital grammar activities are easy to use in a literacy center or station, so you can squeeze in extra grammar practice. That way, your students can hone their writing skills and write with confidence!
You can always make these types of resources for your personal classroom use, but if you would like to save time, I do have all these grammar activities for sale too. I sell them individually and in bundles.
Here is the link for all my grammar activities. You can also click the picture below too.
Here is the link for the grammar and language arts bundles here. It will filter out my other resources. You can also click the picture below.
If you are new to using these types of digital grammar activities, I have a free tech course that will help you get a simple three-step system in place. You can get more information and sign-up for that here.
If you are interested in Office 365 for Education and have a valid .edu email address, you can find information on that here. Please note, I am not affiliated, nor does Microsoft endorse anything written here today. I just want to inform you all of this handy resource.
I also have free grammar resources to share with you all today.
Click here for the free kindergarten task cards. This one covers nouns in context. To keep these on a kindergarten reading level, the sentences include cvc words, common sight words taught in kindergarten, and picture clues.
Click here for the free first grade task cards. These target the CCSS language standard to spell frequently occurring words with irregular spelling patterns. These can easily be used in kindergarten too.
Click here for the free second grade task cards. This one covers verb tenses. These can also be used in first grade with students with stronger reading skills.
Looking for more game ideas to use with the grammar task cards? Find nine game ideas and a free game here. Make sure to check out some of my other grammar posts too. I share many ideas here, here, and here.
I hope my ideas and tips were helpful to you all, and ultimately to your students! Thanks so much for stopping by The Candy Class! Happy teaching!