Now, I know “excitement” may not be how you describe the subject of grammar, but your kids will think this instant, silly game is plenty of fun, and they’ll get good at knowing their parts of speech too!
First, teach or review that a “noun” is a person, place or thing. Have your children look around the room and find nouns. If you can touch it, it is a noun. If you count it, it is a noun. If you can go there, it is a noun.
Next, teach or review the concept that a “verb” is an action word. Anything you can do is a verb. That would mean hopping, running, swimming, dancing, playing, typing, etc. There are also words for just existing or being and they are verbs too! Is, am, are, be, were, being, was, are all verbs.
Now, for the game!
Have the children stand up and raise their hand. A hand is a thing. The word hand is a noun. So whenever you say a word that is a noun, the children are supposed to raise their hand up.
Now have the children hop. Verbs are action words: hopping, swimming, dancing, running, etc. Tell the children to hop on one foot whenever you say a word that is a verb.
Start easy by just saying random words:
apple (noun—children should raise a hand up)
dancing (verb—children should hop)
balloon (noun—children should raise a hand up)
cookie (noun) . . . continue
. . .etc.
Be careful when saying verbs to state them in their -ing form (dancing rather than dance) or in a past tense form (danced instead of dance). The reason is that many verbs are also nouns. A dance could be a noun. Dancing and danced are verbs.
You can pick the silliest words you can think of and go faster and faster so that the children are racing to make their signals. This is lots of action, fun and laughs. When the children get good at this, slip in a few state of being verbs such as is, was, are, be, am. When they are no longer stumped by the “being verbs”, you can start telling them a story slowly, and let them figure out the nouns and verbs. For example, you could say this sentence and expect these signals:
“The pig gobbled his dinner.”
pig (noun—children should put their hand up)
gobbled (verb—children should be hopping)
dinner (noun—hand up).
“Charley was a large pig and he lived in a muddy pigpen.”
Charley (noun—hand up)
pig (noun—hand up)
he (noun—hand up)
pigpen (noun—hand up).
“Charley loved to eat apples.”
Charley (noun—hand up)
eat (verb—childen should hop)
apples (noun—children should put their hand up).
You can add to the game by teaching a signal for proper nouns. Proper nouns are nouns that are capitalized and mean a certain, specific thing, such as Charley, Mr. Jones, or Disneyland rather than pig, man and amusement park, which are common nouns. Whenever a noun is proper, have your child bow in a proper way. So when you say the word, Charley, your child will not only have his hand up to signal a noun, but he will take a bow to signal a proper noun.
If you aren’t quick in thinking up sentences for your children to do the actions to, then read a simple children’s book aloud, sentence by sentence.
Your children can join right in to make up more signals as you learn more parts of speech. There are 8 parts of speech (nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, coordinating conjunctions, preposition, articles) so this doesn’t get too complicated to have fun with.
Who can resist grammar when it is just fun and games?!