How I surprise my students and elicit a love for grammar lessons
Updated: Jun 16, 2019
Teaching grammar is the Trojan Horse of the English classroom. Students moan, teachers stress, and we often lose the purpose of why we are teaching it in the first place. As a person who loves a good old fashioned challenge, I have spent the past three years developing a collection of grammar games and activities that elicit a love of grammar amongst my students. Keep reading to find out how.
Gamification is probably my favourite word when it comes to teaching. In my classroom, games happen weekly, if not daily. We shout and yell and laugh because we are having fun! Any game you have ever played can be turned into a grammar game. Here are some of my favourites:
The Hogwarts Grammar House Cup - this year I have started something new in my room - a Harry Potter themed grammar tournament. I teach two year 7 classes and two year 8 classes so I have assigned each class a Hogwarts house and they will be competing against each other to win a pizza party right before the Christmas break. The students are now falling over themselves, asking me if they can have extra grammar homework to score more house points! The way it works is simple, they get points for taking notes on key topics, completing online quizzes that I provide them, voluntarily completing worksheets at home, and for their final unit tests. I have a leader board up the back of the room to foster the competitive nature in my students and I can't believe I haven't tried this sooner! It is a beautiful motivator! Let me know in the comments if you would like me to send you the resources that make up the display board for free.
Match - my twist on the classic matching card game helps students to practise their skills at identifying parts of speech. The students play in pairs and each student tries to match together different examples of the same part of speech. I love this activity because it is so versatile - I have used it with students in year 7 all the way up to year 10 and I know it would work with younger kids as well. Find my card deck as part of my grammar learning stations here.
Spoons - because modified drinking games make the best grammar games. For this one, you will need a collection of spoons - or any other object in abundance and a deck of cards comprising of 48 cards (6 cards of each part of speech). You can find my Spoons deck here. Your students will play in small groups of about five to six players. This game is also designed to revise the parts of speech and is similar to Match but a bit harder to win. The aim of the game is to make four of a kind (for example: four nouns, four adjectives etc) and to not be the last person without a spoon at the end of a round!
To play, arrange the spoons in a small circle in the centre of the table. Nominate a dealer who deals four cards to each player on the table and reserves the rest of the cards in a pile within reachable distance. The dealer takes a card off the top of the remaining pile to have five cards in their hand. They then decide which card they want to keep and which the want to discard to the next player. The dealer removes their card to discard from their hand and passes it face down to the player on the left. Play continues like this with each player in succession picking up the card from the player to their right and then discarding to the player on their left. The last player in the circle places their discarded card into a trash pile. Cards are picked up and passed quickly around the table until someone gets four of a kind and takes a spoon from the centre,Once the player with four of a kind takes a spoon, anyone can take a spoon and should take them as quickly as possible.The player left without a spoon is eliminated from the game and can monitor the game to ensure fairness.If at any time the draw cards run out, pause to reshuffle the trash pile and keep going.
Grammar hoops - for this game you will need a few sets of throwing hoops (like the one pictured below) or something similar like a magnetic dart board or any other throwing game AND one digital device per group - either phone, tablet or PC. The idea is that this activity gets the students to complete a grammar quiz without even knowing or complaining! So how do you do it?
Divide the students into teams (I split mine into three teams because that's how many hoop sets I have). Have the students in each team line up in front of the throwing hoops. Ask the first person in each line to log into an online testing website like Socrative, Kahoot, or Google Forms (prior to the game, you will need to have set up a grammar test on one of these platforms or you can use my Socrative quiz by using this code: SOC-26756137). Then, the game begins! Each student must answer a single question correctly to be able to throw their hoop. Ask each student to answer the question and then show you the screen that tells them if they were correct or not. If they get it right, they throw the hoop, accumulate team points, and then move to the back of the line, giving the device to the next person in line before they go. Repeat for as long as you want the game to last!
I hope that you can use one or all of these grammar games in your classroom and elicit a love of grammar that extends well into and beyond the teenage years!
Have a great day,