Grammar instruction is one component of learning a language. For students, it is often beneficial to use a mixture of direct grammar instruction and indirect and in context activities.
This is particularly true when there is little time available to devote to direct grammar instruction. Here are some activities that are easily integrated into other content areas. They still allow students to practice new grammar skills.
Teach Basic Parts of Speech
In elementary school learning about the basic parts of speech is part of the language arts curriculum. ELLs might need additional practice with these concepts and the vocabulary words used as examples. Older students will often need to be introduced to basic parts of speech, that their classmates learned about in lower grades.
I have sets of vocabulary sheets that are ready made as you are introducing your students to the parts of speech. They are great for speaking and writing. The vocabulary sheets go along with parts of speech color by code sheets (Grab a FREE set HERE). You can also create a chart with your students about a topic that they are learning about.
Use Picture Books
A fun way to introduce a new grammar concept is with a picture book. Picture books have illustrations and typically are not random sentences (like you may find on a worksheet.) They are also a great source for mentor sentences.
The Words Are CATegorical set of books show parts of speech and other grammatical concepts in a silly and fun way. There are many illustrated examples of the grammar focus of each book.
Many picture books are written in the past tense. Dreamers is about a women and her journey as a new immigrant to the United States.
Last Stop on Market Street tells the story of a young boy and his grandmother as they take a bus home. The boy asks why he doesn’t have all of the objects is sees around town. The book has examples of past tense verbs and ing.
Use Mentor Sentences
A mentor sentence is typically a sentence from a book or other text that students look closely at. It is helpful first to read the picture book to students without looking at the grammar. After they are familiar with the story, first, choose a sentence for students to examine. Students can identify the parts of speech in the sentence (color coding each part of speech works well for this activity). Another activity is to have students create their own sentence that is modeled after the mentor sentence.
Use Sentence Frames
Sentence frames are a simple way to incorporate grammar into a lesson. The sentence frame helps students to use correct sentence structure. Here are some simple examples of sentence frames to use with your students.
I like to ____ (verb).
The ____ (noun) is ____ (verb or adjective).
I am ____ (verb).
Yesterday I ____ (past tense verb).
Use Students Writing
Student writing is a great guide of which grammar concepts to teach and as a source for practicing the new information. If you notice students trying to use, but mixing up making the same grammar mistake, that is a great teaching point.
One strategy I used with a group of intermediate fifth graders was to copy sections of their writing that had the grammar concept that we were practicing. Then I would have them use colored pencils to edit their work and look for that mistake. They were able to focus since they were only looking for one grammar concept at a time. It was their own writing so they were more invested than doing the same activity from a workbook.