March Lesson of the Month – Subject/Predicate “Gone Silly”


How many times have you gotten a new class of students and after a few short writing lessons, this thought comes to mind. “What did they teach these children last year? I can’t teach them to write if they don’t even know how to write a sentence.” This thought is universal. It seems like we teach, and teach, and teach again the necessary linguistic skills to apply in writing, but they don’t seem to “stick!” The grammar lesson for this month practices parts of speech and subject/predicate division paired with a comical game for students to enjoy using their own sample sentences.

Barbara Mariconda, co-founder/owner of Empowering Writers, says “The real purpose of Editing and Revising is the application of speech to writing.” The lesson of the month involves Parts of Speech as well as the understanding of Subject and Predicate. These grammar skills are taught not just for expertise in sentence structure, but to apply that expertise to each of their writing samples. Let’s get started on an enlightening and entertaining grammar lesson.

Here’s what you’ll do:

As a pre-requisite to the lesson, introduce or review the parts of speech used in your current grade level. It is important to note that 2nd grade may be expected to learn nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns and prepositions, whereas 4th Grade will continue those and add conjunctions and interjections.

Bring in a picture/photograph or your favorite movie character. MODEL writing a sentence about the character, including all of the parts of speech. (Again, use the parts of speech appropriate to the grade level.) For example, the teacher might bring in a photograph of Arlo, the Apatosaurus from the movie, The Good Dinosaur or Nemo, from Finding Nemo.  After discussing the movie and the character, the teacher will model a sentence using as many parts of speech as possible.

Modeled Samples:

EEEK! The bug-eyed dinosaur nervously stares into the face of his new human friend, yet he desperately needs a reliable companion.

Yikes, Nemo’s father warns him about the dangerous reef, but the naughty clownfish repeatedly swims into the deep waters.

*Note: The modeled samples above are more sophisticated samples that may not be appropriate for your grade level. If so, simplify your modeled sentences.

Using the sample sentences, color-code the parts of speech. Here is a color-coding chart if one is needed or there are several available online.

Noun – yellow

Verb – green

Adjective – blue

Adverb – red

Pronoun – orange

Preposition – purple

Conjunction – brown

Interjection – pink

EEK, the bug-eyed dinosaur nervously stares into the face of his new human friend, yet he desperately needs a reliable companion.

Yikes, Nemo’s father warns him about the dangerous reef, but the naughty clownfish repeatedly swims into the deep waters.

Have the students bring in or print a picture, photograph or drawing of their favorite movie/book character, animal, occupation, family member, etc. Let them work in pairs or individually and write a sentence about their character, including as many parts of speech as possible. Monitor the student writing, guiding their writing when necessary. Let each student print his/her sentence on a sentence strip.

Next, assist the students in color-coding their sentences, using the same color-code key used with the teacher sample.

On Another day:

Revisit the Modeled Sample sentences and divide the sentences into subjects and predicates.

EEK, the bug-eyed dinosaur   /   nervously stares into the face of his new human friend, yet he    /   desperately needs a reliable companion.

Yikes, Nemo’s father  /   warns him about the dangerous reef, but the naughty clownfish  /   repeatedly swims into the deep waters.

Have students use the sentences they wrote about their favorite character to divide  into subjects and predicates, actually cutting the sentence strips apart between the subject and predicate. Some may have compound sentences and some may have only one subject and predicate, depending on the grade level and sophistication of the student.

Before taking up the student samples, label the back of each subject with “S”, and the back of each predicate with a “P”.

Play a game with the student samples.

Divide the class in half or as evenly as possible. One group will be the “S” group and the other half will be the “P” group. Assign numbers to the “S” group. For example, if the “S” group has 8 members, number them from 1-8 assigning each student a number. Repeat the process with the “P” group, numbering them from 1-8 (depending on the number in the group).

Pass out a subject sentence strip labeled “S” to each of the members of the “S” group. Repeat the same with the “P” group, giving each member a predicate sentence strip labeled “P”.

Next, have the #1 “S” group member go find a #1 “P” group member. Continue with the entire group members, having each numbered “S” group member pair with their matching “P” group member (with the same #.)

Once all “S” members have found their “P” counterparts, have them read their sentences aloud. There should be some silly, mixed up sentences. For example, a subject might be paired with predicate as follows:

EEK, the bug-eyed dinosaur   /    repeatedly swims into the deep waters. Or

But the naughty clownfish   /   nervously stares into the face of his new human friend.

K-1 Lesson:

For this month’s K-1 lesson, read the Grammar lesson above. For the primary version of this activity, the teacher will create the sentences, instead of the students creating them. Try using different animal and human characters for even sillier paired samples. Here are a few suggestions:

The tiny puppy   /   barked all night.

My mom  /   wrapped the package in bright paper.

The snowman   /   melted when the sun came out.

The baby goat   /   climbed on top of the haystack.

Imagine the possibilities when these subjects and predicates are paired in the “not so matching” game from the lesson above.

The tiny puppy   /   melted when the sun came out.

The baby goat   /   wrapped the package in bright paper.

Optional:

As an added bonus, have the students illustrate the silly sentences.

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