Teaching Language Skills: Nouns and Verbs
By Mary Montero
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Upper elementary students are pretty familiar with the function of nouns and verbs, but that doesn’t mean we can skip teaching this crucial language skill. Nouns and verbs lay the foundation for building sentences, correctly punctuating sentences, etc. This is why I integrate language practice in our writing units and centers throughout the year, but I also make sure to explicitly review and extend language skills… especially at the beginning of the year!
Just think about how many concepts there are to master with nouns and verbs alone. For nouns, students need to understand common/proper, plurals, possessives, pronouns, and abstracts (especially in upper elementary because students almost always only say person/place thing!). For verbs there are regular, irregular, linking, helping, and toss contractions in there too. As if that wasn’t already enough, then we get to combine nouns and verbs to tackle subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent agreement.
How To Teach Nouns and Verbs
We make two anchor charts together when focusing specifically on nouns and verbs. The first one is a basic nouns and verbs review (and goes very well with Norman Noun and Veronica Verb mentioned below). I select a picture with a TON going on in it. Then we pick out ALL the nouns and accompanying action verbs to go with it. Kids just LOVE doing this, and it’s a great reintroduction to this somewhat basic skill.
Our next two anchor charts are MAJOR overviews of all the different elements of nouns and verbs. These take us several days to fully complete together as we walk through them and complete the activities below to practice each. I love making my anchor charts interactive, so on these, I used pictures and sticky notes to do that! You can just keep using different pictures to review the skills over and over.
For these nouns and verbs anchor charts, I put one picture up and then have students write sample sentences using the featured skill based on the picture. For example, on the common/proper nouns section, I have students write a sentence describing the picture using only common nouns, and then I have them replace with proper nouns. For the pronouns, we write out a sentence with common or proper nouns and then replace them with sticky note pronouns. I usually write these on a sentence strip so that I can do a bunch on top of one another and keep building!
Be sure to download your FREEBIE below for these anchor chart templates!
I don’t include a ton of details about each topic on this anchor chart since it’s meant as a review, AND I wanted there to be enough room for us to write our sticky note practice. For a more in-depth review of these skills, I use this page from my FREE Language and Grammar Skills Quick Reference Guide. It does a deep dive into these skills with more definitions, examples, etc.
After reviewing these concepts, we keep our skills fresh with daily grammar practice. Language Skill of the Day makes this super simple to prep with seven total activities per week. Each week includes a daily skill review using a wide variety of high-interest activities. An additional weekly “Boost Your Brain Bonus” activity provides your students with an early finisher activity to stretch their thinking. Finally, The Weekly Edit has students correct two sentences based on that week’s skills.
Remember the Quick Reference Guide I mentioned above? It’s the PERFECT companion to Language Skill of the Day! I highly recommend you print a set for every student in your class. (I also have a reading skill quick reference guide!)
Nouns and Verbs Practice Activities
Norman Noun and Veronica Verb: This is an activity I started when I taught 3rd grade, and kids LOVE it. I used a large piece of butcher paper and cut out two different outlines of people. One was Norman Noun and one was Veronica Verb. We started with Norman, and labeled the paper with different nouns (body parts, clothing, jewelry, etc.). Then we took Veronica and did the same thing, but with the verbs that each of those nouns do. They loved this, and it was always a great refresher!
Magazine Hunt: For a quick review, have students flip through magazines or newspapers to identify nouns in pictures. Then students glue the pictures into categories to sort by types of nouns. They can do the same with verbs, OR write verbs that go with the nouns they identify. You can extend this by having them write sentences with the nouns, making them possessive, etc.
Book Hunt: Challenge students to use their independent reading book to make a list of ten specific nouns (abstracts, proper nouns, plural nouns, etc). Then extend the task by having students change the nouns into a different form. Students could change from singular to plural, proper to common, regular to possessive, etc. based on the skill you’re currently practicing. You can also differentiate this activity by assigning different types of nouns to different students.
Task Cards: It wouldn’t be a Teaching With a Mountain View post without task cards! I have so many sets to practice nouns and verbs. I highly recommend starting out with my Nouns and Verbs set. It has students think critically about words, consider how a noun and be a verb and vice versa and more. This is where I start, then throughout the year as we focus on more noun and verb skills we move on to Possessive Nouns, Nouns and Verbs, Types of Verbs, and Verb Tense for low prep practice.
Pictures to Teach: I love using pictures to teach and wrote this blog post with more tips for getting started with them. This digital and printable pictures to teach resource will help you teach and review five common parts of speech using pictures AND teach students how to apply their skills to short reading passages! Students will have the opportunity to observe a picture and make inferences, ask questions, make predictions, etc., practice a wide variety of parts of speech skills based on the picture, and apply the part of speech to a short passage.
Tie It All Together: This Super Sentences Flip Book is another great way to tie nouns and verbs together with other important grammar skills. You can see it up close with other complete sentence tips in this blog post.
Free Comic Strip Practice and Teaching with Pictures: Like I mentioned, this isn’t a one and done teaching moment! I try to slip in parts of speech review all throughout the year. I created these few pages as a quick independent work option to use during literacy centers. The first two pages have students completing this super fun (based on conversations with my own kids…) comic strip dialogue activity, and the last page is another way to use pictures to review nouns and verbs. My own kids LOVED all three of these activities!
Download Your FREE Anchor Chart Templates and Nouns and Verbs Activity
I compiled a list of my favorite books for reviewing nouns and verbs here in this Amazon storefront for easy browsing!
I’m so glad you are here. I’m a current gifted and talented teacher in a small town in Colorado, and I’ve been in education since 2009. My passion (other than my family and cookies) is for making teachers’ lives easier and classrooms more engaging.