Grammar, phonics, and parts of speech often struggle for first place at the very pinnacle of the student boredom scale. When I was growing up, spelling and arithmetic also jockeyed for room at the top. Because my own level of boredom/failure was so high as a young student, these days I spend a lot of “working” time looking for ways to teach these types of mind-numbing concepts, ways that are not only easy to learn but hard to forget.
Personification really helps make abstract concepts memorable and helps to avoid the need for a child to just memorize and remember. We also use color, story, and visual in this exercise, all of which are right-brain-friendly tools.
It makes sense to me to start with nouns when teaching parts of speech because very young children are first occupied in acquiring naming words for all the “things” they see and touch in their environment. Nouns are, for the most part, concrete and visible. While the young child is getting acquainted with what the object is called, he will also be exploring its physical characteristics.
Have your child act out being a noun, strutting around wearing a red T-shirt, and saying, “I am a thing …I am i-t IT!” Here is a snapshot of Mr. Noun. Mr. Noun is dressed in a red suit, and he tends to say, “I am a thing. I am hot. I am i-t IT!”
In sentence building, suggest to your child that we choose a noun first of all. You can write nouns on cards for your child to choose from, or you can use our stylized nouns (brand new!). Here are some examples:
SnapWords® Nouns Cards are perfect for young children being introduced to words for the first time, for English Language Learners, for vocabulary acquisition, and for sentence building with our regular high-frequency words (306 SnapWords®). We have 59 nouns that pull words from social studies, science, weather, the animal world, geographical formations, etc.
Here are some verbs from our 306 SnapWords® list: Verbs are great to follow up with after learning some nouns. Mr. Verb is paired with the color green and he says, “Green for GO!” Here he is and boy is he active! You can just see the movement in this version of “verb.” Chat about verbs with your child, making sure they understand action verbs such as run, eat, sleep, walk, write, draw, sweep, etc.
With just a few nouns and verbs displayed, you can begin to put phrases together with your child. Choose a noun. Let’s choose "snake." Then ask your child for a word telling us what the snake did. He could slither, sleep, sun, eat, etc. A very simple idea is to use the word "ate." “Snake ate.” You can also pair the words "make" and "fire" to create the sentence “Make fire.”
Using a whiteboard and dry erase markers in red and green, do the following activity together. Choose a noun and have your child write it on the whiteboard in red marker. Next, select a verb together, and have your child write it in green to tell what the noun did.
Over time you can venture into the more abstract meanings of nouns and verbs, adding to the simpler words you have already learned. These might include nouns you can’t really see, such as "dream," "thought," "idea," etc. To verbs you can add being verbs, such as "is," "am," "was," etc.