These classroom activities can help develop grammar skills, particularly syntax and morphology

Syntax is about how words are sequenced to convey meaning. This meaning can be changed by rearranging the same words in a different order (e.g. ‘I can run fast’ changes to ‘Can I run fast?’). Morphology refers to the grammar of words and how they are formed. A morpheme represents the smallest unit of meaning in a word. Some children with speech and language impairment have difficulties with using bound morphemes such as -ed, -ing, -s and -es at the ends of words. Grammar is organizing words into sentences, using the correct grammatical word structure. Children who have difficulties with grammar tend to muddle verb tenses. They may find it difficult to pronounce -ed, -ing, and -s on the ends of words and their sentence formation tends to be immature.

Children who have difficulties in this area may:

  • use immature sentence construction (words may be in the wrong order)
  • have difficulty using pronouns correctly
  • have difficulty using connectives and articles in both speech and writing
  • use word endings (-ed, -ing, -s) incorrectly
  • have difficulty with understanding when to use conjunctions and prepositions
  • often muddle web tenses
  • have kinesthetic strengths and learn better through using concrete materials and practical experiences
  • have visual strengths and enjoy learning through using visual materials (charts, maps, videos, demonstrations).

Order the best-selling book A-Z of Special Needs for Every Teacher for lots more activities and help.

Activities to develop grammar skills

  1. Model correct grammar, but don’t correct – for example, if the child says ‘I runned to school with my mum,’ you might reply ‘So you ran to school with your mum. Did you get up late?’
  2. Oral sentence completion – ask the children to complete open-ended sentences (e.g. The dog ran into…’).
  3. Tell me – describe objects or pictures orally for others to guess. Child must give sentence clues (e.g. ‘It is black. It is very long.’).
  4. Sort a sentence – using known words. The children should recognize that the word with the capital letter starts the sentence and the word with the full stop ends the sentence.
  5. Reorganize simple rhebus sentences .
  6. Beginnings and endings – matching parts of sentences.
  7. Sentence speech bubbles 1 – children to match these to well-known story characters or characters from a core reading scheme.
  8. Written sentence completion – ask the children to write endings for open-ended sentences (e.g. The dog ran into…).
  9. Reorganize sentences – using given subject/verb/object sentences (e.g. The boy/was painting/a picture).
  10. Sentence speech bubbles 2 – children to write these for well-known story characters or characters from a core reading scheme.
  11. Cloze for nouns – choice of nouns given (A…was playing football. bus, boy, boat).
  12. Sentence completion – using simple information materials (e.g. A baby horse is called a…’).
  13. ow and then (verb tenses) – ask the children to choose sentences that can be placed on the ‘now’ or ‘then’ boards (e.g. The girl walked to school. The girl is walking to school).
  14. Did you know? – ask the children to write some simple sentence information facts.
  15. Verb change – ask the children to change a verb that has been repeated in a passage.
  16. – ask the children to identify pronouns with people in in a text.
  17. Cloze – for verbs, adjectives and adverbs.

From  A-Z of Special Needs for Every Teacher by Jacquie Buttriss and Ann Callander