Grammar is an integral part of language arts instruction for teachers and students in elementary and middle school classrooms. Traditional methods of teaching grammar through individual worksheets and whole class recitation can be tedious for teachers and students alike. Group-oriented, interactive grammar games engage students in active and cooperative learning experiences that encourage critical thinking and creativity as well as enforce grammar rules.
Noun Battle helps student differentiate between nouns and proper nouns. Select one student to stand in the middle of the room. The student calls out a noun category (such as celebrity). The first student to stand up and call out a proper noun within the noun category (such as Marilyn Monroe) gets to call out the next noun category. The goal of the game is to have everyone standing as quickly as possible. The game ends when more than three seconds passes before anyone can think of a proper noun. Most classes will not be able to get through an entire round the first time. Provide a prize or incentive (like a free homework pass) for the first time everyone makes it through on one try.
Adverbial Action helps students understand the function of adverbs as describing the way in which an action occurs. Select one student to leave the room. Privately consult with that student about which manner-describing adverb he would like to use; examples of manner-describing adverbs are quickly, slowly, loudly or sneakily. When the student returns to the room, the rest of class gives instructions for the selected student to follow. Instructions are actions like sitting down, walking around the room or hopping on one foot. The student must perform the actions in the manner of his selected adverb. Other students try to guess which adverb the student selected. The student who guesses correctly then gets a turn to select an adverb and perform actions.
Check with a department head to get permission to bring food to class. Be sure that you are aware of any student food allergies. Place students into groups of four or five. Hand each group a finger-food item to taste. Include family foods like chocolates, marshmallows and pickles as well as foods they may not be familiar with like vegetable chips or ribbon candy. Give each group three minutes to brainstorm as many adjectives as possible to describe each food item before moving on to the next one. At the end of the tasting, award prizes (like homework passes) to the group with the most adjectives as well as to the group with the most creative but accurate descriptions.
Grammar on Trial
This game lasts all year, and the class can play it several times. Invite students to bring in examples of what they believe is poor or incorrect grammar. Show them examples of bad grammar in newspaper articles or advertisements. When a student brings in a piece to share, that student chooses a partner to serve as a prosecuting team. Two other students volunteer to serve as a defense team. The two teams prepare arguments about why the example either is or isn't an example of bad grammar. The rest of the class serves as a jury and votes on whether or not the example is incorrect. Relegate grammar-offending articles to a section of the classroom to serve as examples of grammar misuse.