Groans. That’s how grammar lessons taught in the traditional way are usually greeted. And we can’t blame our kids for dreading grammar. It can be dry and tedious.
Skipping it isn’t a good option, however. Grammar is important because it comprises a significant part of college entrance exams. It also determines how our kids will be viewed by peers and potential employers.
Fortunately, there’s another way. Grammar can be fun! When it is, it helps make grammar lessons stick. Here are six easy steps for engaging grammar teaching.
#1 Make it Humorous
Students perceive they are learning more from instructors who are humorous. If you don’t think you’re particularly funny, don’t worry. There are great ways of introducing humor into your grammar teaching that don’t require stand-up skills.
My favorite way is to search for grammar fails online. Of course, you’ll want to review your finds before sharing them with your kids.
Be on the lookout for other humorous grammar examples. I just read from an instruction manual that was obviously not written by a native English speaker. It read: “Dont’s use the power button.”
#2 Make it Relevant
A research study found that depressed patients, who normally didn’t find anything funny, enjoyed psychiatric humor. Our kids will not only laugh at jokes they can relate to, but will enjoy grammar lessons that are about them. Instead of working with textbook sentences, have your students make up their own. They’re likely to be funny and a lot more enjoyable to analyze or edit.
#3 Make it Active
Grammar lessons don’t have to be limited to pencil and paper. They can involve movement and should, especially if you’re teaching younger boys. Grammar can be more fun if kids can move around while giving their answers orally.
Give your students motions to use for punctuation, for example. Have them jump up and down when you read a sentence that should end in an exclamation point. Or send them on an adjective scavenger hunt.
#4 Make it Social
Grammar can be a lot more fun to learn with other students or family members. You can have your child play one of the many free grammar games I’ve listed with you or a sibling. Or you can let them entertain one other by making grammar humorous and relevant. My kids and their friends had fun with dry sentences by reading them with funny accents.
#5 Make it Short
Anything stops being fun when it goes on too long. Long lessons also make it less likely that your child will remember what’s being taught. Even though grammar is important, it isn’t as important as reading for pleasure.
#6 Make it Suspenseful
Even though I liked English when I was in school, I didn’t look forward to learning new concepts.
Suspense is what makes us eagerly await the next chapter of a book or the next episode of a favorite show. We can build the fun of anticipation into our grammar teaching by having students edit a continuing story line by line or by teaching grammar within the context of a continuing story.
Grammar Galaxy: The Easiest Way to Make Grammar Fun for Beginning Readers
Speaking of suspense, I’ve been working on a complete language arts curriculum for two years. I’ve been telling my readers and podcast listeners about it all this time and I can finally announce that the first two levels are done!
Grammar Galaxy teaches grammar in a humorous, relevant, active, social, short, and suspenseful way. It uses the same approach for teaching literature concepts, vocabulary, spelling, composition, and even public speaking to students who have just started to read. Grammar Galaxy is most appropriate for advanced first graders, second graders, and older beginning or reluctant readers through the sixth grade. It’s perfect for teaching siblings, as Gena Mayo of IChooseJoy.org shares in her thorough review.
When my friend, who has two dyslexic sons I have been teaching literature and writing to for years, saw the cover of Grammar Galaxy, she said,
“This just looks like fun!”
That was my goal. Teachers read a short, humorous story about the royal English family living in Grammar Galaxy to their students. The English family has an enemy called the Gremlin, who tries to destroy the English language. In one story, the Gremlin labels all the fiction books in the library system as nonfiction, bringing them to life. The king appoints his three children Guardians of Grammar Galaxy, but there is more work than they can do alone. They recruit other students in the galaxy to complete missions to make things right and let them know if they solved the crisis.
Students spend just 10-15 minutes three days a week completing fun, active missions in their Mission Manuals that require little handwriting. They spend the rest of their language arts time reading, being read to, or listening to audiobooks.
To learn more, click here or on the rocket below. See you in Grammar Galaxy!
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Melanie, these are really great! I especially liked the one about finding grammar “fails” on the internet or in product instruction manuals. I’ve always enjoyed them myself, but it didn’t occur to me to use them in teaching the kids! I suppose Mad Libs would be another idea to fall under the category of “humorous”! Just got my digital copy of Grammar Galaxy and the kids are psyched (hehe). Can’t wait to get started!!
So glad you liked the tip, Lynna. My favorite grammar fails are the cakes. I laugh so hard I cry. 🙂 I’m so excited that you’re giving Grammar Galaxy a try. Do let me know how it goes.
Such great ideas! Much beyond using Mad Libs to teach basic grammar in a fun way I had no other ideas. I’ll definitely be pinning this for later.
So glad it’s helpful. I love your post on finding peace in your homeschool, by the way.
This is such a great article! I am so glad I found it! As an English teacher in Romania, I find it quite difficult to make grammar more attractive for both children and teenagers, mostly because I was taught in a dry, “communist” (as most of the younger teachers would call it) manner. The lack of resources is an impediment, as well. But I will definitely use your ideas, so let’s hope for the best!
Ligia, I’m so glad you like the article. Blessings on you and your students. I think you’ll like the grammar games post I reference in the article, too.