Activities for Grammar


4 developmental levels

Be aware that using words like ‘some’ may enable the child to complete the activity without understanding the rule for plural ‘s’. This may be a strategy to use initially but we are working towards the child understanding the difference e.g. between hat/hats. Teach the rule that if there is more than one of something you need to change the end of the word.

Level 1

Plural ’s’ – e.g. hats, balls, spoons.

Remember first we are working on plural ‘s’ – not changes in form, e.g. buses, scarves, mice

Level 2

Plural ‘es’ – e.g. buses, brushes, glasses, watches

Level 3

Plural ‘ves’ – e.g. knives, leaves, scarves

Level 4

Irregular plurals – e.g. mice, men, deer, sheep


Give me

  • Have sets of objects – where there is a single object/picture and more of the same objects/pictures.
  • Adult says ‘Find me a hat;’ child finds a hat or picture of a hat.
  • Adult says ‘Find me hats;’ child finds hats or picture of hats.

If the child can successfully complete the above activities then let the child be the teacher to encourage correct use of plurals.

Barrier Games

Children each side of a barrier give each other instructions to draw a certain number of objects.


There is a progression in the way children learn to understand and use negative forms.

Level 1

Is a basic yes/no contrast and is rarely a problem in school.

Level 2

not - this is about understanding the significance of this little word which changes the meaning of a sentence.

Activity – use an activity scene, e.g. children playing in a park and ask questions like ‘Show me a boy who is not standing’.

Or use practical activities throughout the day – ‘Tell me who is not sitting down’. 

If the child can successfully complete the above activities then let the child be the teacher to encourage correct use of negatives.

Level 3

can’t, don’t, won’t

Level 4

didn’t, wouldn’t

At this level understanding is about recognising that n’t equals not; can’t equals cannot, didn’t equals did not. You will need to make this explicit for some children.

Model in activities like PE

Girls – do run

Boys – don’t run


Have a circle of children where the adult says something about himself/herself, e.g. ‘I have black hair’, the next person in the circle is encouraged to say something about himself or herself ‘I have brown shoes’.

Have a small circle of children. Give each child an object, the adult models ‘I have a car, he has a bear’. The child then says ‘I have a bear, she has a cup’ etc. You could extend this to having some pairs of children sitting together within the circle both holding the same object where the preceding child would say ‘I have a horse, they have some bears’.

Pronouns can be reinforced throughout the school day. In PE talk about the children, e.g. he is jumping, she is skipping, they are climbing, we are crawling.

Higher levels can be modelled, e.g. I am doing it myself.

Elklan Language Builders Green Book Page 49 has some useful tips.

Question words

Take note of the developmental progression.

Be aware that a child who cannot respond to a ‘who’ or ‘where’ question will not cope with a ‘why’ question.
Repeating a question back to you spontaneously, as if echoing what you have said, usually indicates that a child does not understand a question word.

A useful teaching strategy for questions is to talk through and make explicit the relationship between questions and answers. E.g. a ‘who’ question has a person answer.

Some useful links

  • Blank Rose and Berlin (Michelle we will send you this by the end of the week)
  • Colourful Semantics
  • Black Sheep

Time Concepts

It is important to teach only one concept at a time. Do not teach in pairs e.g. before and after. This important point applies to all pairs of concepts e.g. big/little, noisy/quiet and also to colours.

Appropriate use of verb tenses is related to the child’s awareness of the passage of time. Use the child’s personal experiences to develop this, e.g. today you are painting the tree, yesterday you painted the house and tomorrow you will paint the sky.

Use a Velcro/picture/written timetable of the school day to teach the concept you wish to develop.

Joining Words

In the beginning ‘and’ will be used to connect nouns, e.g. bucket and spade. A simple pair association game or an opposite jigsaw will help to develop this early stage.

When the child can cope with this basic level, you can introduce ‘and’ between phrases, e.g. ‘the boy is standing and the girl is swinging’.

Again take opportunities throughout the school day to encourage development of joining words.

Other joining words include, because, then, but, after, when, before, so, since, yet, until, however, for.

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Last updated: 22 October 2015

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