Learning grammar does not have to be boring. Middle school teachers can easily incorporate learning the parts of speech into fun and engaging activities that will have their students moving around the classroom, working in groups and even laughing hysterically.
Parts of Speech Lesson
Before students perform any grammar activities on their own, teach a lesson on the eight parts of speech. Use simple two- or three-word definitions where possible. Make the lesson more engaging by taping pictures of examples beside the definition. For example, post a picture of an apple for "noun." For a verb, show a picture of someone eating the apple. A picture of an apple and an orange can demonstrate the conjunction "and," and so on.
When it is time for students to try their hand at identifying the parts of speech, give each student or group of students a stack of note cards with words listed on them. Tape eight envelopes to the board with a different part of speech written on each one. Students will try to sort their words into the correct envelopes. When all students are finished, go through the contents of each envelope and decide as a class if the words have been correctly sorted.
Mad Libs is a writing game likely to send your class into a fit of giggles. Ahead of time, type out an excerpt from a novel or newspaper article but delete some words and replace them with blanks. Number each blank. On a separate piece of paper, write the numbers of the blanks on the left-hand side of the page. Beside each number, write the part of speech of the deleted word associated with that number, preceded by a funny or extreme adjective. For example, if the first word you had deleted was "person," write "a humongous noun" beside number one and so on down the list. Give the students this sheet or paper and tell them to answer all the questions. For example, for "a humongous noun" they might put "elephant." Finally, give them the original paragraph or story and have them refill in the blanks with their own answers.
Identifying Parts of Speech
Parsing, or identifying the parts of speech in a sentence, works effectively as a class activity, independent assignment or homework. Write a sentence on the board and then identify the different parts of speech together by writing the term above the word or using sticky notes. Assign a paragraph from a novel to parse independently.
Nadine Smith has been writing since 2010. She teaches college writing and ESL courses and has several years experience tutoring all ages in English, ESL and literature. Nadine holds a Master of Arts in English language and literature from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, where she led seminars as a teaching assistant.