The best way to pique students’ interests in grammar lessons is to engage them in fun grammar games and activities that allow them to connect emotions with new knowledge or concept. This connection with emotions creates memories which do not easily go away and are easy to retrieve when needed.
Here are a few grammar games and activities that we can use to excite the students before, or during, grammar lessons. Some of them offer cool introductions of new concepts while others offer a teacher some methods to make practice more memorable.
1. The Verb Family Tree
This tree will teach the students different forms of verbs as children of the root verb.
You can do this activity on the whiteboard or you can opt for a worksheet version. Either way, you first have to start on the board so the students get the idea.
- Draw a family tree with four branches
- The root or trunk is the root word or the main verb
- Name every branch a particular form. For example, the branch of the eldest brother could be the third-person singular form of the verb. Another branch is plural or past form, and so on.
- Demonstrate with one word and call excited students to name siblings of verbs of your choice.
You may also let them play this game in pairs.
2. Magnet of Praise
Focus: Adjective, Adverb
This is one of the many grammar games and activities on this list that allows students to revise adjectives. You can also adapt this game to let them remember adverbs.
It is easy to conduct, and you can choose to give out worksheets or do play it on the board.
- Draw a magnet which is attracting nails.
- Tell the students that the magnet is a noun (or verb) and wants nails that define its qualities.
- Write any noun (verb) on the magnet and call the students to qualify or modify it.
Be ready to get surprised with the adjectives students create on the spot.
3. Time Box
Focus: Verb Tenses
This activity will help your students identify the time to which a sentence belongs after studying the verbs and auxiliary verbs.
- Divide the students into teams.
- Take six (or more depending on the number of teams you make) boxes and label them past present and future.
- Then write different sentences (thirty to fifty will do for a detailed game) on pieces of cardboard and make two piles.
- Teams will brainstorm and assign each sentence to the relevant box.
In addition to encouraging the students to practice grammar, this activity will also help them with communication skills as they will discuss before putting the sentences in right boxes.
4. Sentence Grid
Focus: Parts of Speech
This activity focuses on the basics of language. It allows the students to distinguish between nouns, verbs, adjectives, and other parts of speech.
It is another minimalistic activity that only requires the board and marker. You have to start by drawing eight boxes on the board. Label them accordingly. (You can enhance the layout by using different colors for different parts of speech.)
- Next, write random words from all parts of speech at a side column of the board. Or you can choose to dictate the words.
- Give an example by assigning some words of students’ choice to the relevant grid.
- Ask each one of the students to write dictated word in the appropriate grid box depending on the part of speech it represents.
5. Sentence Bus
Focus: Parts of Speech
So, every sentence follows a certain order. Simple sentences usually start with a subject, followed by an auxiliary verb, verb, and object. In between these components, we inject other parts such as adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, and interjections.
After explaining sentence structure and parts of speech, you can do the following steps to engage the students in Sentence Bus:
- Draw a bus on the board. Draw the number of seats according to the level of complexity of sentences you are teaching your students.
- Label these seats as Subject, Verb, Adjective, and other parts of the sentence.
- Write a random, jumbled up sentence and words at the bottom of the board and ask the students to get these passengers seated on their designated seats.
- After that, let them read their conjured up sentence using the sentence structure.
Be ready to hear some funny combinations especially if you are using adjectives in these sentences.
6. Adjective/ Adverb Race
This is similar to a typical vocabulary race in which two different teams of students compete against each other in finding more qualifiers.
But, it has a twist!
You can make it a solo activity, where a single student from each team comes to the board and list all adjectives (or adverbs) that come to their mind. Or it can be a group activity where the student on the board receives examples from his/her teammates (insert total chaos!).
But where is the twist?
It lies in the restriction that the students will only define the word you have assigned.
- Start with making two teams of students.
- Call both to the board and assign different noun (verb) to them.
- Ask them to qualify these words only according to the qualities they attract.
- Every qualifier will attract a definite mark and the team with most qualifiers will win.
Focus: Subject-Verb Agreement
In this activity, students will match subjects with their appropriate verbs and auxiliary verbs.
One of the hardest parts in English for my students is to choose appropriate verb form for different subjects. I often get sentences where the pronoun ‘she’ is followed by the verb ‘play’ in the simple present tense.
How do you make them practice? The following is a cool grammar activity to help them with matching verbs to their subjects.
Again, you can do this activity on board or you can create your own worksheets.
- Name the tense you want to practice for the day.
- Write ten to fifteen subjects including nouns and pronouns, a similar number of verbs, and adverbs.
- Ask each student to make as many groups of friends as they can from these words in proper order.
- So the word “plays” can befriend ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, and any singular noun you have used.
- In a worksheet scenario, you can compare the group of friends your students make and declare the winner.
This is another activity which allow students to revise the verbs and use auxiliary verbs to mold into the tense of your choice.
You can conduct this activity both at the board and on the worksheet.
Start by informing students about the party of the day. This party should be one from the grammar tense.
Explain how verbs change forms to suit the dress code of the party. For example, in Past Simple Tense, verbs will dress up in simple past form and Present Perfect will require past participle form.
Now assign one verb to each student and ask them to dress these words up for party of the day like Present Simple, Present Continuous, and likes.
You can also ask them to dress them up according to their (subject) friends. For example, verb ‘grow’ will dress up as grown to pair with ‘he’ and ‘has’ to go to Present Perfect Tense’ party.
9. Playing Boss – Part 1
This grammar activity will connect the nouns with their pronouns.
The concept is simple. Students will have to assign the duties of the boss to theirsubordinate in their absence. Teacher will give as bosses students will give pronouns which are capable of serving the boss.
Simple prompts will be:
Joe has an appointment out of office. Who will take of his affairs at the office? He? She? They?
10. Playing Boss – Part2
Focus: Kinds of Pronouns
The purpose and design of this activity are similar to the previous one but with a little expansion in concept.
Joe’s out-of-office appointment will give rise to the need for delegation of various duties. One of the duty is to act like Joe in every work (subject pronoun), to receive order and communication as the boss (object pronoun), and to possess his valuables (possessive pronouns).
11. Rolling Ball
This grammar game can include any aspect you may want your students to practice. You can ask them to give a particular type of noun, a verb that follows a particular subject of tense, an adjective of a particular degree, or a preposition.
The game is simple:
- Start by giving a ball to show starter student.
- Ask them to give an example of the part of speech you have mentioned.
- Ask them to pass the ball until the music is on. Play music.
- The last receiver of the ball will have to give you an example of the part of speech you have decided.
- Those students who fail to give an example quick enough will be out of the game.
12. Twenty Questions
This famous grammar game collects various qualifiers from all parts of speech to define a single noun (usually a perfect noun).
The game takes a pair of students one of whom defines the character while the other guesses it. But the student who is defining the character (or noun) cannot say that word and the recipient has to rely on clues to know the noun.
A few questions which can help the guesser include the size of the thing (adjective), work he does (verb), quality of his services (adverb), its origin (noun) and so on.
Other than allowing the students to inventory relevant parts of speech, the activity also allows them to make different questions and hold conversations.
13. Community Members
Through this grammar activity, teachers can help the student in identifying and using different degrees of an adjective. Like all other adjectives-related activities on this list, you can also adapt this activity to study adverbs.
You have to come up with a picture of a community or a group of related nouns. An example of such a group is animals living in the jungle.
Keep it relevant to your kids’ interests to make it more exciting. For example, I would show them a picture of all characters from Ben10.
- Show a picture of a group of persons, places, or things.
- Tell an adjective and ask them to compare two of the members of the presented community according to the adjective.
- Then ask them to find the member which is the epitome of that adjective among the whole community.
So these are a few grammar games and activities that I hope could help your class in learning and practicing this otherwise confusing and sometimes boring subject.
Start playing and let me know which of them was most exciting and which was most helpful in learning.