Kathy: Hello everyone. I am very excited to have my friend, Dr. Melanie Wilson of the Homeschool Sanity Show on the Homeschool 5 and 10 today. She is a Christian psychologist, turned homeschool mom of six, author of Grammar Galaxy, and the Organized Homeschool Life, and one of the featured speakers at the Great Homeschool Conventions this year. Welcome Melanie.
Melanie: Thanks so much for having me. I’m looking forward to our chat.
Kathy: As an expert in all things grammar, today Melanie and I are going to be discussing five ways to make grammar fun. But before we get started, I want to remind listeners that this interview is being video recorded as well as audio recorded. So if you like to see facial expressions, don’t hesitate to skip on over to YouTube to like and watch the recording of today interview.
Well, let’s get talking all things grammar. When I think back to my days of learning grammar in the classroom, I think of diagramming and pages and pages of worksheets and the memorization of rules and the exceptions that left me really confused more than confident, but grammar doesn’t have to be like that as you have proven in writing Grammar Galaxy. So what are some ways that we can make grammar?
Melanie: Well, first, we want to introduce humor into the process. And one of the easiest ways to do that is to look for grammar mistakes and a tip for doing that is in finding great grammar mistakes that are funny. Search for memes and jokes and cartoons related to the topic that you are teaching.
For example, you can search for punctuation mistakes. And you will find all kinds of great memes and cartoons that you can use in your teaching and save for later. Some of these are not going to be appropriate for kids, but what I like to do is have a Pinterest board where I can save the memes and jokes that I find and pictures to a board for teaching grammar. And then, when I’m ready to show my students, I can pull up that board.
Kathy: That’s a great idea. A few weeks ago I posted on my Instagram page (I think you saw it where there) a grammatical error on a garlic jar. I had my kids try to find that error, and it was fun cause they got to be little detectives and figure out what the problem was. So that’s a great idea. What is another great way to have fun with grammar?
Have Kids Create the Sentences
Melanie: Well, one of the things that I noticed when my kids expressed their extreme distaste for grammar studies was that the sentences we were working with had no meaning to them; they were disconnected from story. They were disconnected from their experience.
And I realized I didn’t have to use those sentences. In fact, I could have my kids generate sentences that were similar to what was in the textbook or the workbook. Their sentences could be funny. And we could work with the sentences that they generated and get their buy-in and interest into the grammar work that we were doing.
Even if you’re going to diagram sentences, it’s a lot more fun to have your kids create the sentences themselves.
Kathy: I love that. And I also love, you’ve said it twice now, humor makes a big difference and your Grammar Galaxy, it has humor in it. And it’s funny. And your sentences that the kids actually work on relate to the story. It’s relatable to something that they’re doing which is totally makes it much more fun.I totally agree.
So in creating fun sentences, they can always think of like pets, they could talk about their pets or they could talk about something funny that their dad said. I mean, there’s a lot of ways that could go with that. What’s another way that they can get fun with grammar?
Create Pictures to Remember Homophones
Melanie: Yes. So homophones are a common problem with grammar. In fact, we see it all over the internet where people have used the wrong homophone or common M, and here’s what I mean…
Kathy: Yeah…for all of us who don’t remember our grammar days. What is a homophone?
Melanie: So one of the most common ones that we recognize is the word “there.” There are three ways that we can spell it: T H E R E, which means a place, T H E I R, which means they possessed something, and then T H E Y ‘ R E, which means they are (it’s a contraction for, they are). And so what we can do to help our kids remember the difference is have them create their own pictures, their own picture flashcards. I have created a number of these picture flashcards for people, for my kids using Grammar Galaxy, but I encourage them to create their own because when they personalize it, it will be so much easier for them to remember the difference.
And there are many homophones that you can create these picture flashcards for, and I would recommend using an easy to use graphics program, like Canva that already has all kinds of line art that could be used to create these cards.
Kathy: I think that’s a great idea. And that tip works well with vocabulary words as well because my daughters, they are now using that tip to create a comic strip, to go with whatever vocabulary word they are trying to remember. So that’s a very good tip.
Let’s talk about another way…. We’ve talked about finding mistakes and how that’s fun. We’ve talked about having the kids create fun sentences that could be silly. And we’ve also talked about creating pictures to help them write homophones and vocabulary words. So what’s another way that you can have fun with grammar?
Melanie: That is to play games. There are so many amazing games developed to help kids learn grammar. I have a huge list of free grammar games that you can play with one child or multiple children that are completely free to play and use that.
There are also online games that teach grammar concepts that kids have a blast playing. And then finally there are several board games that will teach grammar concepts, and I have a list of those two. So if you’re looking for a great gift idea for kids that is also educational, a language arts board game is a winner. And we have had so much fun as a family playing these games over the years.
Kathy: That is cool. In a few weeks on the Homeschool 5 and 10, we are going to be talking about using Alexa in our homeschool. And there’s actually games that you can play on Alexa as well, that are all about grammar. So make sure you guys tune in for that as well, when that comes up, because there are lots of different kinds of games, both online, as well as board and card games to play.
Awesome. All right. So we have one more left. What’s your last tip?
Melanie: That is to use story. I was very surprised when I realized that one of the reasons kids many kids, at least my kids hate to grammar is because it doesn’t reference anything. There is no context for the sentences, if you will, and so I set about to change that by creating Grammar Galaxy. And the stories in the curriculum explain the why of grammar, why we need that concept of grammar because when we don’t have it, there is chaos in the galaxy.
You don’t have to use Grammar Galaxy in order to use story, to teach grammar. You can have your kids create stories of their own for why we need pronouns. For example, why do we need them? Why did they develop? Have them create a story about why pronouns developed. In Grammar Galaxy, pronouns are word creatures, they’re living beings, and that is a fun way to learn grammar.
Have kids come up with their own stories about why we have these concepts and what happened. If we don’t use them, just for example, if you don’t have pronouns in your language, you are going to be struggling because imagine playing a board game together and you can’t just say “you.” You have to use the person’s name every time, and you can’t reference multiple people without saying each and every one of their names. And it’s a great way to help kids remember these concepts.
Kathy: I remember when my middle daughter did that exact lesson in Grammar Galaxy. And it was so fun to watch her because you use a story, and in the story, there’s no pronouns, for this particular time. And she was like, “They need to add pronouns, mom, it’s awful.”
Anyway, it’s really great to take the pronouns out of a story and then see if they can figure out what is missing too. So that’s really cool! These are some great ideas, Melanie, and thank you so much for joining us today.