For many children, one of the more exciting periods of education is when they begin to work their way through 2nd grade grammar. Having gotten past the difficulties of sounding out basic words and identifying letters, they are in a sort of "sponge" mode – absorbing new vocabulary with amazing speed.
They begin excitedly using new words in their spoken conversations, and the increase in communication becomes something of an adventure.
Being able to give and receive complex directions; understand contexts for informal and formal language; and discover how punctuation lends expression to the books they read – all of these are part of the growth that should happen in 2nd grade grammar development.
Skills Used in 2nd Grade Grammar
While not a comprehensive list, the following skills are examples of the kinds of 2nd grade grammar skills typically taught to 2nd grade students:
- Punctuation - Using and comprehending basic punctuation. Starting with the question mark and exclamation mark, children can experiment with the changes in meaning made by punctuation. Also, given choices of sentences, some correct, some incorrect, they can choose the correct one.
- Vocabulary Development - Using vocabulary tools to understand new words. Strategies important for vocabulary development include:
- Sounding out words
- Associating with similar words
- Beginning to identify parts such as suffixes, prefixes, and roots
- Understanding New Words - New vocabulary skills include sounding out words, beginning to identify parts of words (suffixes, prefixes and roots) and the concepts of abbreviations and contractions.
- Story Structure - As the level of complexity increases in the books they read, the 2nd grade grammar skill of recognizing the plot of a story and the way the words (such as "once upon a time") signal the beginning of a tale, which needs to somewhat logically be brought to "the end" develops.
- Language Development - While it may seem natural for an adult, the discovery of how to write and read the language that the youngster speaks gives a facility and new form of expression valuable to a young student.
- Tone and Rhythm - The second grade is where kids start to refine their senses of humor and begin to use irony and sarcasm in their communication.
Activities to Practice New Skills
- Spelling rules and rule-breakers - Silent letters can be confusing to the new reader. Diphthongs (boing, coin, cooperate) are fun to sound out. Double consonants like scribble, rattle, bubble and puddle are also fun words to sound out as well as common exceptions to spelling rules.
- ED and ING to change words - "Choose the correct word" is a good way to develop this skill. It is also a good way to introduce the child to the variations in the past tense: "I'm walking" and "I walked" are correct, but "I'm swinging" and "I swinged" is not. Turning the many exceptions to this concept into a game is a good way to keep the frustration to a minimum.
- Superlatives - Most kids will have learned "most" and the -est suffix but many have problems trying to figure when to use which. There really aren't any rules about superlatives - we rely on our trained ear to know the correct word to use. To train these young ears, keep asking questions like "Who's the youngest? Who's the oldest? What's the most awesome movie of all time? Where are the coolest buildings in the world?
- Context-based comprehension for homonyms - Words that operate as both a noun and a verb (such as "swing") are sometimes confusing. One game for this is to give two definitions for the same word, and the child must think of what word is being used. For example, "I'm doing this to the car while it's taking me on it!" could be a clue for the word "drive."
- Identifying and defining new words - By the time a student is working with 2nd grade grammar, they should be able to use many different tools to figure out new words. Structural analysis; picture dictionaries; and recognizing how compound words and affixes change the words are all methods to increase reading and writing comprehension.
This is only a scattering of the many skills that have been more exhaustively developed by elementary educators. There are many tools and resources online to assist teachers and parents in stimulating the grammar growth of the 2nd grade student.
Above all, kids learn best when they are having fun. Encourage reading. Instilling a love of books and keeping a cheerful, exploratory attitude helps all children continue in their educational growth.