Mission: revamp the way we look at grammar!

I would not have thought this possible if I had not become an ESL teacher myself. Years ago, when I embarked upon my teaching journey, I thought teaching grammar had to be taken seriously. No fun or games. I was so wrong. When I included grammar games in the classroom, not only did I change students’ opinions about learning, I also found myself excited to teach. I even started learning grammar in remarkable ways. I am glad to be able to share these methods to make grammar a great experience for home educating families.

Get Them Moving: Preposition and Verb Activities

Students need movement. It invigorates by bringing more oxygen into the brain and by pumping blood throughout the body. When oxygen levels are increased, learning and creativity follow suit. Have students move around as often as possible.

Prepositions are an ideal subject to make this possible. Give students a chance to demonstrate their understanding of prepositions by using physical space (under the table, next to the bookshelf, inside the bathtub). Or give students an object, like a stuffed animal, and place it where it belongs according to prepositions that are written on slips of paper or on a writing board. Another activity includes placing an object in a location that requires a preposition to describe it. Have them call out the prepositions, and watch them learn faster than ever.

Verbs are also a perfect match to physical activity. Something as simple as “show me (insert verb)/what does (insert verb) look like?” can facilitate learning because both the body and the brain are engaged. This is a great activity for an outdoor space such as a patio, backyard, or park.

Memory Building (Verb Tense and Example Match-Ups)

Memory requires consistent building. The card game of memory bolsters memory through visuals, repetition, and fun. Studies show that when students learn in a low stress environment, memory and capacity increase drastically.

Make your own memory game out of cardboard or poster board. Write “the past tense of (insert verb in base form, without conjugating).” Then the pair would be a sentence using that verb in the past tense. An example is “the past tense of tell” and the sentence pair would be “My mother told me to go outside to play.” If they get these two cards and recognize the link, they earn a pair.

Fantasyland (Board Games and Storytelling with Conditionals)

Conditionals can be tricky, but thanks to this game, they can be a blast to learn. Students love the space to be imaginative, too.

For board games, give students a set of phrases that they must say to each other. Examples include, “Could you pass me the dice?,” “I would like to …,” or “May I go now?” They must use as many phrases as possible, and each phrase will gain them a point. If they fail to use the conditional phrases, they lose either a point or a turn.

Take Them Shopping (Countable and Non-Countable Nouns)

Changing the environment engages students on a deep level. It provides a blend of physical movement and exciting educational spaces. Any space can become a learning environment.

After giving a lesson on countable and non-countable nouns, take students to a grocery store. Select two carts; one will be filled with items that are countable, the other with non-countable items. You can give students freedom to collect the items on their own or give them a list of nouns and allow them to decide for themselves if the noun is countable or non-countable. Set a time limit for a little pressure, which facilitates learning, and review their findings at a meeting point location within the store.

Employ games in your homeschool for optimal outcomes, and watch students get excited about grammar.

Copyright 2019, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.

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Jacklyn Janeksela is a teacher and a guide to mastering language learning. As both an ESL Instructor and a language learner, she has a unique perspective on both worlds, and that makes her a sympathetic teacher. Student-centered teaching as advocated by Paulo Freire has been her secret weapon to getting students involved and engaged in their own learning process.