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It’s warming up: Grammar Games: Modifier Tag

Why another game so soon?  Because it’s beautiful out, there’s not much school time left, and it gives me a twenty-minute reprieve from the draft of a twenty-page paper.

Like the idea of giving your kids the chance to run around while reinforcing important grammatical concepts?  Check out the other game posted so far, “End Your Sentence!”  (Let’s give it a little extra oomph.)

Again, these are untested.  Please put in your two cents if you try them, so we can make them better together!

Modifier Tag

It’s suggested that your students have a basic understanding of at least one one-word modifier — whether adjective or adverb — though the best game would use adjectives, adverbs, nouns, and verbs for a more challenging and thorough review that better demonstrates’ students’ knowledge of what really modifies what.

  • Note: This particular game doesn’t have a buddy system/read aloud system integrated because it uses single words as opposed to sentences; my feeling is that single words are much easier to pre-assign based on students’ reading levels.  It might be beneficial if working in a class of varied reading levels, especially if working in an inclusion class, to review all of the words (including and especially their parts of speech) you’ll be using before the game, indoors, either as a class or as an individual or partner/small group activity without letting the students catch on that you’ll be using them in a game.  In fact, I highly recommend it.

You will need:

- tape

- clearly printed or typed adjectives, adverbs, or both, enough for half the class, large enough for other students to read

- clearly printed or typed nouns, verbs, or both, enough for half the class, large enough for other students to read

- a big enough space to run

  • Review parts of speech and model, all at once!  Bring up four students and allow them to read the word on each of their signs.  Have the class review the part of speech of each word as the students tape the signs to their shirts.  Review modifiers — which parts of speech go together?  Can a verb modify a noun?  Can an adjective modify a verb?  Explain that students have to find a word partner so that they can make interesting pairs, by linking arms.  Who will link arms?  (adjective and noun and/or adverb and verb)  
  • Model this as many times as necessary until your students catch the drift of the game.  Have students pass out signs, or have students pass the stack around in small groups and take the top sign, or whatever other method works most efficiently for your class. 
  • Give students a moment to read their word to themselves before taping it to their own shirts. 
  • Tell students to spread out and keep their word covered up so that no one can see it.  This way, no one can plan to rush for their best buddy who also happens to have the part of speech they need.  This can also be avoided by careful planning in word-assignment.
  • Give them the go-ahead!  Let them run like crazy to find the proper part of speech to pair up with.  In this round I’ve specified one-one pairs, but if you want to get adventurous and go for multiple modifiers, have at it.
  • When all the students have paired up, give them a second to catch their breath and have each pair read themselves out loud.  This can go on for as many rounds as you have words and time.

Mad Libs variation

Want to make the combinations potentially hilarious to read, or, reinforce which parts of speech modify which without requiring students to identify them independently?  Try this:

  • Instead of one-sided word signs, create folded signs with the part of speech on the outside and a word on the inside (for example, “noun” when folded over, and “dog” when unfolded).
  • Have students pair up according to the parts of speech on the outside of the folded paper without looking at the word inside.
  • When students are all matched up, have them unfold their signs and read the words inside in their proper pairs.  If you choose some really madcap words to begin with, the pairs are bound to elicit some laughter.

Filed under education teaching idea games literacy words tag modifiers parts of speech grammar outdoors exercise

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It’s warming up: Grammar Games: End Your Sentence

There are a lot of variations on tag and racing and things of that sort that can work wonders on reinforcing lessons and giving students a chance to run around in the nice weather all at once.  I would have loved to be able to try some of these out with my students, but our school was short on teachers’ aides and the co-op just didn’t think we had the time, at the time, to take the kids outside.  Besides, this would have been better THIS semester, when they already had a foundation in the concept and it wouldn’t require the time to grab their coats!  So here’s one for you to consider, change up to fit with your students’ needs, and try out when the weather works, with more to come in between my finals.

End Your Sentence

When working in their journals, many of our students had trouble remembering to end their sentences with punctuation.  Understanding of the end punctuation varied — Amy might put a period after every word, or after seemingly random clusters of words; Tony would remind us after reading our choral poem of the week, “Miss ___, I think that we should say that with a little more oomph, there’s an exclamation point.”  I was in an inclusion room at the time, and some students tended to work better with a kinesthetic reinforcement to reach understanding of certain concepts.

I’d recommend that students have a basic understanding of end punctuation before you try the game, but if you try it out before then and it works please let me know, because that would be awesome to consider when using the lesson.

You’ll need:

- tape

- clearly printed or type sentences without punctuation, on two (or more) different colors of paper (I was going to be taking some sentences from books we had been reading in class, but this is also a great way to use spelling words)

- large signs with a period, a question mark, and an exclamation point

- stakes, if there’s nothing in the area to tape the punctuation to

- a big enough space to run

  • Find a place to hang, tape, or stake each end punctuation.  Make sure that they’re far enough away from each other that students won’t crash into one another trying to get there.  It helps if you think of it a little like a game of Four Corners, except…with three.
  • Divide your students into teams.  Tape a sentence to each students’ shirt, keeping to one color for each team.  But here’s the thing — tape it to the back of their shirt.  This way, students have to work together and practice their reading skills by reading the sentence aloud.
  • If you’re working in a classroom with a drastic range of reading levels, it might be best to pair or group students accordingly, so that students will be able to read the sentences on their teammate or partner.  In the original lesson plan, each student had a reading buddy assigned before the game.
  • Give students a set amount of time to read the sentences aloud to one another.  The student wearing the sentence should be the one to make the initial decision about what end punctuation they need.
  • Optional: Give the students another minute to declare their punctuation to the team, so that the team can guide one another in the right direction if they think the sentence-wearer is off track.  There are pros and cons to this step; the pro is that the students will have to verbalize their thought process, but the con is that students also have the chance to lead one another from the right decision into the wrong decision.
  • When you say go, students will make a run for the right end punctuation for their sentence!
  • Optional: Add math!  Tell your students that each end punctuation should have the same, or nearly the same, number of students; or, give them a specific number for each end punctuation.  Let them look around at their groups and see if they think, based on the number of people at each group, that everyone will be right.
  • Have students remove the sentence strips from their shirt (or, from each others’ to hand them back to the wearer).  Give students a moment to look at the sentence for themselves.
  • Have each student at one end punctuation group read the sentence aloud; confirm with the student which end punctuation they think they need. 
  • Ask the class if there is anyone there that shouldn’t be.  Why?  Where should they go?  Run run run, go to the right punctuation!
  • Repeat for each group.  Have displaced students reread their sentence at their new group, just to reinforce their comprehension of there they should be and why.
  • If you’re into the competition piece, record the score based on how many in each team were in the right place.

Again, a disclaimer, this might be flawed.  I never got the chance to try it.  But if you do, or you don’t but have suggestions, could you tell me what you think so we can make it the best we can for everyone to use?

Filed under education teaching idea games outdoors exercise grammar punctuation sentences literacy