While learning grammar is very important, it can be a boring task. Older generations will remember diagramming sentences to learn about grammar. This technique is not used by many teachers today because most students did not carry over the knowledge learned through diagramming sentences into their everyday work. One method presently used that can help to make learning the parts of speech more pleasurable is utilizing prepositional puzzles and similar activities. Students will remember and have more understanding of concepts that are presented in an enjoyable way.
Prepositional crossword puzzles are useful for teaching parts of speech. An internet search can locate readymade puzzles available on many websites. Teachers can also make their own crossword puzzles to focus on the parts of speech being taught in class. The easiest way to make a prepositional crossword puzzle clue is to create a sentence with the preposition left blank. Students must use context clues, number of letters in the word, and any letter clues from adjoining words to fill in the blank.
Prepositional word search puzzles can also be fun for students. After they find all the prepositions, challenge them to use each one in a prepositional phrase. The next step could be to use the phrase within a complete sentence.
Students can make their own prepositional phrase illustrated puzzles to challenge their classmates. Initially, the class can brainstorm the prepositional phrases as a group then each student can pick one to illustrate. Examples could be- along the highway, in the garden, on the kitchen floor, etc. When the pictures are done, students can exchange them with a partner. The partner then has to match the illustration to the corresponding phrase. As the students become more proficient, skip the brainstorming step and see if the students can identify the prepositional phrase without a list of possibilities.
Teach the students to write more interesting and complex sentences by using How-What-Where activities. Start with a very basic sentences such as – The horse ran. The students add phrases one at a time to the base sentence to answer how, what, and where. The basic sentence could grow in stages to – The very big horse ran quickly over the bridge on the way to the barn on the left of the house. The students will enjoy brainstorming and charting how, what, and where phrases and then inserting them into various basic sentences.
While introducing and using prepositional puzzles it is helpful to use the correct terminology. Even if a student is too young to understand the difference between an adjective and an adverb, hearing the proper terms will plant the seeds for learning when the time is developmentally appropriate. Most first graders can distinguish between nouns and verbs even if they can remember the labels for each.
With a little imagination and creativity, grammar can be presented and taught in enjoyable ways. Prepositional puzzles are one avenue for helping students learn correct syntax and usage of words.