First grade is where most kids will get the most important components of their language arts education. It's also the time when language is most fun, full of clapping, singing, and rhyming.
1st Grade Grammar
How Many Syllables?
You know how to play this game. Say a word and clap out its syllables. Cat gets one clap, brandy gets two, and Obama gets three. Easy right? Well, most kids will bore of this game fairly quickly, and most teachers and parents don't seize the opportunity to teach their wards a few delectable sesquipedalian gems.
Why not break out discombobulation (seven claps) or anthropomorphic (five claps) or even dactylogram (only four claps). Using bigger or more unusual words will get first grade grammar learners into the habit of counting quickly, develop their sense of the language's rhythm, and find out how cool it is to know some big words.
When they go to their teachers with big words they learned at home or to their parents with SAT words they learned from an astute teacher, wide smiles of pride will shine all around. The practice is called syllabication, which is another fun word to clap out (five claps).
First Grade Grammar's Most Important Lesson
The difference between a verb and a noun is by far the most important thing a child will lean in the first grade. If their teachers and parents fail to teach them that, they should hang their heads in eternal shame. Don't allow yourself to become one of the many crestfallen guardians of children who wander the streets at night wishing they had been more diligent in their responsibilities!
A noun is a person, place, or thing. That's easy, right? Well, it's not exactly that simple since whole groups of words can be counted as a noun, but for now, in the first grade, it will do. Every English-speaking person on the planet should be able to rattle off those three words describing nouns.
Don't be too concrete about nouns, though. Nouns live well in the abstract realms of thought, too. Love, euphoria, happiness, anger, hatred, freedom, and even gedankenexperiments are all nouns. If your kid comprehends that abstract ideas can be nouns, you've done him or her a great service.
A verb is anything anyone or anything does. What do orangutans do? What do dogs do? Verbs will answer those questions.
Since verbs are words describing actions, they are the backbone of every story you've ever heard. Varying your verbs helps drive your narrative and makes it more fun to listen to what you're saying. Think about how many words there are for "go." One can crawl, walk, skip, strut, etc. Turn your students onto verbs, and you'll create master story-tellers.
Sentence Structure for First-graders and Everyone Else
So many people make it to adulthood not knowing how to put together a simple sentence in writing that it's staggering. They try to switch things around and get tricky to sound smart when they'd sound smarter if they just followed what they learned in first grade and every subsequent stage of their education. If a person misses sentence structure in their first grade grammar lessons that lack will only grow with time, like a small scratch on a sapling that turns into a gaping wound on the mature oak. Have no fear, sentence structure is easy!
The whole language is based on one equation: subject+verb+object.
The robber left a dactylogram.
The anthropomorphic dog learned sesquipedalian words.
The discombobulated ant crawled into the wrong hole.
First-graders usually have a hard time getting their verbs straight. Went, wanted and walked all start with W's and can be pretty confusing to a first grader.
If kids have trouble with getting their vocabulary straight at first, that's no reason to keep them from learning their grammar. Don't get frustrated. Switch up the verbs. Vocabulary is incredibly important, but if you're on grammar and you're faced with vocabulary difficulties, put the vocabulary lesson on the back burner and use some words that the kids know.
Learning word order does not necessitate knowledge of every word in every sentence, but if a child is consistently mixing up their W's, that can create a broader dislike of language arts, which doesn't help anyone. Each person learns at different rates. One person might have a killer vocab and a have trouble with grammar. Another might know where everything goes but lacks good words.
Keep It Fun
In the first grade, kids are primed to learn about language. They love to talk and sing and do all the things that language empowers them to do. Harness that energy! It's your job to show them how much fun is to be had within the constructs of grammar. Your task might seem daunting, but if you're having fun, so will they.