I am always reflecting on lesson plans and seeking ways to improve student engagement. Due to the current age of technology, texting, acronyms and abbreviated messages, I have found that countless students are entering high school without a firm grasp on proper English grammar. In addition, the subject matter is not something that sparks a great deal of student interest. I may just have a solution: An English Grammar Game that Students Love.
I first attempted this game while teaching 9th graders, but it is certainly appropriate, if not more so for Middle School students.
There is some time required in preparation up front, but I feel the rewards are significant. I’ve had many students approach me afterwards stating that they gained a great deal of knowledge, requesting to play again.
Even if you are not an English teacher, I can see potential variations of this game that could enhance a science or history class, possibly even math. But for now, let’s focus on the grammar.
- Multi-colored Sentence Strips.
- Sharpie Markers.
- Expo Markers
- A Large Whiteboard (of which magnets adhere).
- Seven bins or boxes to be spread throughout the classroom.
- Rule Sheet Hand-out.
The rule sheet will have clear and concise game guidelines and should be reviewed orally prior to playing.
It should also include the “Eight Parts of Speech” along with definitions and examples.
Finally, I would include definitions and examples of “Complete Subject” and “Predicate.”
- Take the sentence strips and cut them into thirds.
- Using a different color for each part of speech, with a Sharpie, write as many word examples that you can think of. You may find a dictionary beneficial.
NOTE: For this game, I only use the Seven Parts of Speech, eliminating “Interjections.”
NOTE: Make sure to cover a broad range of nouns and verbs, including various verb tenses.
NOTE: In addition, create several small ARTICLE strips to include “a,” “an,” and “the.” (These will be placed on the corner of the whiteboard using magnets and will be free for students to select.
- Placing your words within the bins or boxes, create labels for each container.
The object of the game is for groups to create complete sentences using as many parts of speech as possible. Afterwards, they must identify the Complete Subject and Complete Predicate for the sentences they created.
- Divide the class into equal groups.
- Hand out a rule sheet to each group. Read the rules orally, pointing out the parts of speech definitions along with subject and predicate. Make sure to elaborate on behavioral expectations.
- A member from each group will go to one of the bins and select a part of speech.
- They return to their tables and reveal the word to the other members.
- The next member of the group will go to a different bin, choosing a word that will coincide with the first.
- Again, another student will find a part of speech that continues to develop a sentence. The round will continue until all members have participated. (As a timer, I will usually play a popular song. Depending upon the class, two songs may be required.)
- At the end of the music, all sentences must be complete and spread across their tables.
- At this time, one or two group representatives will attach their sentences to the whiteboard using the magnets.
- They must then underline the Complete Subject and double underline the Complete Predicate.
Once sentences have been placed on the board, review and score each team’s work orally, pointing out any errors.
Groups will gain one point for each word used, two points for the underlining of complete subject, and two points for the double underlining of complete predicate.
Designate a corner of the whiteboard where you can keep track of team scores.
You can come up with any number of rewards for the winning teams. I will generally supply wrapped candy purchased in bulk. Sometimes I reward the entire class if everyone demonstrated participation and engagement.
English grammar is not the most exciting subject matter for students to learn, yet critical for success in school and vocational endeavors. I feel that if you can create activities such as my English Grammar Game, where they gain knowledge and practice in a way where they do not necessarily feel that you are teaching, engagement is increased therefore learning gains are achieved.
If you have any classroom success stories, please feel free to share.