Gentle First Grade Grammar

I’m still trying to decide how much grammar we’ll do next year and whether there’s even a chance that any of it will be formal.  For first grade, we’ve just kept it really simple with the idea that reading and listening to books, as well as conversing together, was enough of a beginning for younger kids.  As we write, we’ve been looking at punctuation, capitalization and a few other things, but not in any systematic way yet.  In the last month or so, we’ve been doing a little more with it by introducing nouns, verbs and adjectives.  Below are some of the resources we’ve used.  In addition to these, we’ve also simply had writing assignments to “collect” various parts of speech and played some games trying to spot different types.

Mad Libs
Using Mad Libs for grammar is hardly a new idea.  Is there anyone who doesn’t do this?  Still, it’s fun and leads to lots of giggles.  I like how good it is at helping the kids begin learning to brainstorm for new words.  You can find Mad Libs to do online several places, such as these where you click the words for younger kids and these or these where you type in words you want.

Brian Cleary’s Picture Book Series
This series on parts of speech is full of cutesy rhymes and cartoonish doodles of monsters.  They’re pretty short and simple.  They don’t go into any depth, but they have a nice vocabulary and were well enjoyed by Mushroom and BalletBoy.  Plus, they cover many topics, such as synonyms, prepositions, and pronouns.

Ruth Heller’s Picture Book Series
This lovely picture book series is slightly longer than the Brian Cleary books, with a richer vocabulary as well.  The colorful images are crowded with detail.  The text also goes into some detail about the types of nouns, adjectives, adverbs and verbs.  Mostly, however, these are just creative lists with some clever rhymes.

Board Books!
The other great resource for simple parts of speech is books intended for use by very young children.  So, if you still have some around, dig out the board books.  After all, what’s in a people house?  Nouns!  What are yummy and yucky?  Antonyms!  By far our best find in this regard has been the beautiful picture book Do! by Gita Wolf.  This book, from artists of the Warli tribe in India has just one simple verb on each page along with a clean white on brown stick figure image illustrating it.  We were entranced.

Schoolhouse Rock: Grammar Rock
Ah, good old Schoolhouse Rock.  These are old, but still good.  You can find most of them online these days.  Here’s nouns, adverbs, verbs, conjunctions, pronouns, propositions, and interjections.  Below is Mushroom and BalletBoy’s favorite: adjectives.

4 thoughts on “Gentle First Grade Grammar

    1. At that age, it’s all about vocabulary building, so all those board books are still just good on their own, without any parts of speech additions. It was the first time we had read that book Do!, but think that’s the age range it’s supposed to be intended for. The other two I alluded to are Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli (she also has more board books, like Big Little, which are all adjectives as well) and In a People House by Dr. Seuss (which is all nouns). There are probably others – those were just the ones we had on hand. The other two series I mention are colorful, rhyming and fun so while I wouldn’t think a toddler or preschooler would necessarily learn parts of speech from them as they’re intended, most would probably enjoy them anyway.

  1. I often forget to read your blog…which is silly because I love posts like these…and your book reviews. My son is a year behind your boys so I need to take notes. Oh, and I don’t remember which post it was, but you mentioned “The Cat on the Mat is Flat.”. My son *loved* it!

  2. My son is about to turn 7 and going into 2nd grade. We are just getting started homeschooling, but I’ve always done a lot of “enrichment” activities because he has mild Aspergers and sometimes needs a little extra help with things other kids pick up naturally. I was surprised to find that his favorite thing is POETRY!!!! It’s helped us learn homonyms, synonyms, adjectives, etc. in a natural way because they are so often used as literary devices in poems. We love everything from Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein to Robert Frost and Robert Louis Stevenson!

    I was stunned that my very active, never sit still for a moment 6 year old would ask for more Stevenson poems over the Boxcar Children or Flat Stanley. Even more, he’s picked up an ear for language and increased his vocabulary in the process. Other than weekly spelling words that are phonics linked (words ending in -cian, -ious, etc.) we aren’t going to do a formal language arts curriculum. We are just going to learn to love language and write silly stories, poems, and comics together. I’m also teaching note taking so he can start to see value in writing. Finally he is using the BBC’s Dance Mat Typing Tutor (free) so he can write more quickly. Handwriting is a struggle but he’s a creative kid and I want him to be able to blog, journal, or just make up silly songs as quickly as his brain works.

    Today we are going to try drawing what a poem sounds like after looking at some great “descriptive art” like Van Gogh’s Starry night. Wish us luck! I am still learning what homeschooling is for us!

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