How well can your students morph words from one part of speech to another?  Give them a word and ask them to identify its part of speech.  Then have them transform it into other parts of speech.

Let's take cheer, for example.  What part of speech is it?  It can be a noun or a verb.
Now ask your student to make it into an adjective: cheerful.
How about a participle: cheering.
An adverb?  cheerily.

Do this for any words that pop into your mind. Here are some that popped into mine.

Retire (v)   
noun: retirement  
adjective: retired

Exhaustion (n)   
verb: exhaust  
adjective: exhausting

Celebrate (v)    
noun: celebration
adjective: celebrative, celebratory

Excite (v)  
noun: excitement   
adjective: excited, excitable

Intense (adj)   
adverb: intensely
noun: intenseness

Another idea is to let your students think of the words, morphing them in as many ways as possible.  Then ask them to check a source, such as www. to see what others there may be. 

In addition to becoming more savvy with parts of speech, they will see the versatility of words and build their reservoir of vocabulary!

I remember being introduced to Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" in junior high. With its nonsensical vocabulary that still manages to tell a story, it is sort of hard to forget.  Are your students familiar with it?

In addition to reading this poem aloud, enjoying it for its genius, use it to generate discussion about parts of speech.  What do you think about the words in the first stanza?  Brillig?  Slithy toves? Gyre and gimble?  Are there clues to show us the function of these and the other words in the poem? Look for them with your students and figure out as many as you can.

Lewis Carroll
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.
Learn or review parts of speech by writing structured poetry.

Parts of Speech Poem 1
The Structure

Line 1 – one article (a, and, the) + one noun
Line 2 – one adjective + one conjunction + one adjective
Line 3 – one verb + one conjunction + one verb
Line 4 – one adverb
Line 5 – one noun that relates to the noun in the first line
An Example

An athlete *
Strong and sweaty
Pivots and shoots
* This would be an excellent opportunity to talk about when to use "a" and when to use "an"  before a noun.

The Structure

Line 1: NOUN – whatever the poem is going to be about

Line 2: Three ADJECTIVES separated with commas that describe line 1.

Line 3: (3x) VERB ending in “–ing” and ADVERB describing what line 1 does, separated with commas.

Example: running quickly, jumping fluidly, racing urgently

Line 4: Three PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES, separated with commas

Line 5: INTERJECTION written with either an (!) or nothing if not as strong

Line 6: Free line with at least one PRONOUN in it

Line 7: Free line with at least one CONJUNCTION in it

Line 8: NOUN – write a synonym (word that means the same thing) for the noun in line 1.
An Example

Omnipotent, wise, gracious
Reigning gloriously, directing specifically, loving faithfully
Over all the earth,  before there was time,  at my right hand
My Creator and Sustainer
The One who made Heaven and Earth

If your student wants to write a synonym diamante, the nouns at the beginning and end of the poem should be synonyms.
The Synonym Structure

Adjective, Adjective
Verb, Verb, Verb
Noun, Noun, Noun, Noun
Verb, Verb, Verb
Adjective, Adjective

An Example

caring, kind
nursing , assisting, guiding
teacher, adviser, counselor, caregiver,
leading, molding, supervising
tender, understanding

If your student wants to write an antonym poem, the nouns at the beginning and end of the poem should be opposites, all the words in regular font referring to the first noun, all of the words in italics referring to the second noun. (Of course, the difference in font is only for clarity; the final poem will not have italics.)
The Antonym Structure

Adjective, Adjective
Verb, Verb, Verb
Noun, Noun, Noun, Noun
Verb, Verb, Verb
Adjective, Adjective

An Example

symmetrical, conventional
shaping, measuring, balancing
boxes, rooms,
clocks, halos
encircling, circumnavigating, enclosing
round, continuous
For a change of pace, you may want to let your student use this online tool for writing the poem.

The Structure

a one-word title (a noun)
two adjectives
three -ing participles
a phrase
a synonym for your title (another noun)


An Example

cold, creamy
eating, giggling, licking
cone with three scoops
ice cream
A graphic organizer and sample poems, including the one above, can be found here.
If you want your students to act as editors, send them to Power Proofreading. At this site, you can choose the grade level (2-8) and the skill you want your student to review.  For instance, if you choose grade 4 and "Who's That Character," your student will correct past tense verbs by clicking on each error and fixing it in the box.  Some selections also include "mixed practice."

Note: The key word is "review." Your student should already be comfortable with the skills before editing the selections. Otherwise, it will be little more than a guessing game.
What would you do if punctuation marks the comma period question mark quotation mark and others left for a  vacation Or if, they! were running? wild"

Punctuation marks may seem random and headache-producing, but they are important in helping writers and readers communicate with each other. If they were absent or haphazard, reading would become a horrible chore.  I think my first "sentence" proves that, but if you--or your students--need a little more convincing, read Robin Pulver's fun book Punctuation Takes a Vacation and see both extremes.

Possible activities for students to do with this book:
  • Read it!  (That's a good start.)
  • After the punctuation marks are left in disbelief, they respond. Read their comments and observe the role each mark plays in the sentences.  What other roles do these marks have?
  • Read aloud the letter in the blue box. Punctuate it.  Read it aloud again. How do the two readings compare?
  • Look at the postcards the punctuation marks send from Take-a-Break Lake. Who wrote each of them?
  • Read the letter from Mr. Wright's class to Punctuation. Do the poor class a favor and put the punctuation marks where they belong.
  • Choose several punctuation marks and write postcards from each of them.
  • Write a brief piece three times, one with no punctuation, one with misplaced punctuation, and one with correct punctuation. (Better yet, type it. It will be easier to copy, paste, and manipulate.)
To help students become better editors, consider using Jeff Anderson's idea--Invitation to Edit--from Everyday Editing.

Begin by looking at the first sentence, the mentor text, with your student.  What does she notice about it?  She can comment on anything--content, diction, syntax, punctuation, anything.

Once she has studied it and made her observations, cover it and show her the subsequent sentences, one by one, allowing her to point out what is different (i.e. incorrect) about each one.

A Sample Set

"Because he was so small, Stuart was often hard to find around the house."
                                                                                                        Stuart Little by E.B. White, 47  

Because he was so small Stuart was often hard to find around the house.

Because he was so small, stuart was often hard to find around the house.

Because he was so small, Stuart was often hard too find around the house.

Because he were so small, Stuart was often hard to find around the house.

because he was so small, Stuart was often hard to find around the house.

To make your own "Invitation," find or write a sentence you want your student to study. Copy and paste it several times, making a change to each one (i.e. delete a comma, misspell a word, insert a homophone, etc.). 

Once your student is comfortable with the process, have her make her own "Invitation" for you or a sibling to edit.  Remind her to put only one error in each sentence, so the activity doesn't become a massive error hunt.

Have you ever thought of the parts of speech with personalities?  How would you characterize a noun? an adjective? a verb?  M. L. Nesbitt personifies the parts of speech in her allegory Grammar-Land: Grammar in Fun for the Children of Schoolroom-shire "They are funny fellows, these nine Parts-of-Speech. You will find out by-and-by which you like best amongst them all.  There is rich Mr. Noun, and his useful friend Pronoun; little ragged Article, and talkative Adjective; busy Dr. Verb, and Adverb; perky Preposition, convenient Conjunction, and that tiresome Interjection, the oddest of them all" (3). 

These "funny fellows" are in a tizzy about which words belong to whom, so they must appear in court to present their case before Serjeant Parsing, Dr. Syntax, and Judge Grammar.

The author includes exercises at the end of each chapter. If you would like them in  worksheet/handout form to accompany your study of this book, you can find them here.

This text is also available as a free e-book here.
Allow your children to absorb the parts of speech with Ruth Heller's help.  In her World of Language series, she highlights a different part of speech in each book, explaining its function and using many examples to show it in use.

Here's how she begins Kites Sail High: "A VERB is really the most superb of any word you've ever heard.... Verbs tell you something's being done. Roses BLOOM and people RUN."

In this simple rhyming picture book, Heller introduces readers to complex concepts. Among them are linking verbs, helping verbs, tenses, irregular verbs, and passive and active voices. 

Other books in the series cover nouns, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, collective nouns, interjections and conjunctions, and prepositions.
Encourage (require) your children to edit their own writing. Teach them early that their first attempt is not their final product. This is where I do the bulk of grammar teaching. It's not my hacking the paper with a red pen and making the student feel like a complete grammatical loser. Rather, it's sitting with the child, who doesn't believe in periods or apostrophes, and having him find where he can insert a few. Or it's showing the importance of signaling dialogue with quotation marks or making another paragraph each time a new person speaks. This works well because the student is seeing the immediate connection between grammatical rules and his own work.
Teach the parts of speech by having your children do mad libs. Remember them? You fill in the blanks of a short story with the appropriate parts of speech. When the completed story is read, it is often very silly.