Grammar can be a sticky subject. For those who excel at it, diagramming is a breeze, punctuation is a joy, and the internal editing of text messages and Facebook statuses is just a way of life. For others, grammar can be a sour little enemy, a questioning voice that never seems to get it just right. Let’s celebrate with some fun homeschool activities for National Grammar Day!
The good news is grammar can be fun! And on March 4th, we get to celebrate all that is wonderful about it. We get to talk about how it gives our writing voice, and how it weaves individual words and ideas into a tapestry of pictures, scenes, stories, and adventures. We get to spend the day focusing on nouns, verbs, question marks, etc, and see how they give us the power to share our thoughts in awesome ways. We get to take the focus off of meaningless rules and shift to hands-on fun–for every learner.
Here are a few books and activities that will bring new meaning to the subject and bring a bit more joy to it all.
Books for Teaching Grammar
If you are a Charlotte Mason homeschooler or just love the idea of learning through living books, why not share some of these great titles? With story lines and beautiful illustrations, these books make abstract concepts so much easier to grasp.
- Exclamation Mark: This little punctuation mark finds out what it means to leave his mark on the world.
- Alphie the Apostrophe: This apostrophe discovers how talented he really is.
- If You Were Quotation Marks: This books shares lots of examples for using quotation marks effectively. (Check out the whole series for more fun!)
- Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why Commas Really Do Matter: This is such a fun text with two similar sentences on each page spread. The only difference between the two sentences is the placement of the commas, and the pictures above each show how important they really are!
- Merry-Go-Round: A Book about Nouns: This book brings nouns to life and is just one of a series of books, focusing on the parts of speech!
Activities for Teaching Punctuation
We’ve all seen it at one time or another–that long string of never-ending sentences, filling up an entire page with one single period at the very end of it all. Gasp! Just getting through the piece takes your breath away. For children with little understanding of punctuation, it’s easy to keep things out of sight and out of mind. Have a little fun with the activities below to bring punctuation to life!
The ABC’s of Punctuation: Take a black marker, then write the alphabet in all capital letters on a large sheet of blank white paper. Then, take a red marker and randomly write periods, question marks, and exclamation marks. Discuss each punctuation mark, then write a simple sentence and model how to read the sentence correctly with each of the different punctuation marks. For example: Lassie runs. Lassie runs? Lassie runs!
Then practice reading the alphabet with the random punctuation marks and have some fun! Here’s an example to get you started:
Try doing the same thing with numbers up to 20, then carry it on over to your favorite readers or books.
Choral Reading: Choral reading is a simple, (and very effective!) way to encourage reading fluency and prosody. It’s also a great way to focus on the importance of punctuation, fonts, font sizes, and graphical elements that authors use to share messages. These are my favorite books for this activity:
- Mama: a TRUE story, in which a BABY HIPPO loses his MAMA during a TSUNAMI, but finds a new home, and a new MAMA
- Yo! Yes!
- Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
Scavenger Hunts: Discuss the four types of sentences (declarative, interrogative, exclamatory, and imperative) and how they are punctuated. Then sift through your favorite read-alouds in search of each kind! Find your favorites and use them for copywork throughout the week. Practice choral reading (reading the sentences together) and echo reading in order to emphasize prosody and the importance of punctuation.
Add It In: Copy a short paragraph from your current read-aloud, and then add in random punctuation marks. Read the sentences together with the added marks, and discuss why punctuation is so important.
Leave It Out: Time your student for 10 minutes and have him or her freewrite during that time with one rule in mind: Do not write a single punctuation mark. At the end of the ten minutes, take a deep breath and read the entire freewrite together! Discuss why punctuation is so important for helping the reader understand the message you are trying to share.
Fun with the Parts of Speech
Parts of Speech Cards: Take a set of four different-colored index cards and count out ten of each color. For the first color, walk outside and list all of the nouns you can see, one noun on each card. Then, act out verbs, and write a (past tense) verb on each card of a different color. For the third color, list adjectives to describe the clouds, the trees, the birds, etc., one on each card. Finally, list -ly adverbs on the last set of cards.
Find a nice comfortable spot on the ground, then scramble the cards, grab one of each color and make sentences! Copy them neatly in a journal, capitalizing and punctuating correctly.
Mad Libs: Mad Libs are a fun way to practice what you know about the parts of speech. Plug in nouns, verbs, adjectives, and more for fun stories and adventures that will bring a smile to your face! These are just a few to get you started:
I hope these activities and books inspire you to have a little fun on National Grammar Day and every day! Understanding how it all works is part of the journey, and bringing it to life with hands-on activities makes it all so much more enjoyable.
Happy National Grammar Day, Everyone!