Thanks to the advent of texting, instant messaging, and spell check, teachers face an uphill battle when it comes to teaching their students the rules of correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling. It’s difficult to convince students that it is important for them to know the correct rules and even more difficult to get students to apply them. This is why it is helpful for teachers to have some fun activities up their sleeves to make it a little easier for their students to be successful with spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
What You’ll Need
You’ll need a few things to get started with this activity:
Two different colors of dry erase markers or chalk (depending on what type of board you have in your classroom).
Sentences using incorrect grammar, punctuation, and/or spelling (these are the sentences your students will correct). Sentences should contain the same number of mistakes and the same types of mistakes.
Here are the step-by-step instructions:
Divide students into groups. (See below for tips to help with this.)
Give each group a sentence that needs corrections. Make sure they do not share their sentences with anyone who is not in their group.
Give each group two different-colored markers or chalk. Explain that the sentence will be written in one color and the corrections made in another.
Explain that the first student in each group will write the sentence on the board. (Make sure they know it should be copied exactly as it is written, mistakes and all.)
After all the sentences are on the board, the game begins!
One at a time, each student will go to the board and make one correction. After a student finishes their correction, that student will hand their marker off to the next student.
The first group to correct their sentence wins. The group decides for themselves if the sentence is correct. In my room, once a group says they are finished, they are not allowed to make any more corrections. If they missed something, then the group that finished second (with no mistakes) wins.
As a class, go over each correction. Explain why the first sentence was wrong and what rule the group used to make the correction.
Tips for Success
I’ve done this activity many times in my classroom and have learned quite a few things that help it run smoothly and keep things calm and classroom-friendly.
Divide your class into two or three groups that will play at a time, depending on class size. I would recommend no more than 12 students playing the game at a time. It can get too loud if you have more. So, if you have 24 students, then 12 would be playing and 12 would be watching. When the first group is finished the second group would take their place.
I have found this game works best when the students who are playing are divided into groups of three or four. Two is not enough and five or more is too many.
Establish rules of acceptable behavior before the game begins. I would suggest that each group can whisper to group members (they need to be able to communicate) and those watching must hold their applause/cheering to the end. It might help to actually practice how to cheer/behave before the game begins.
The game itself goes pretty quickly, the review takes longer. But, the review is probably the most important part. Without it, students don’t get to see why the sentences were wrong in the first place or review the rules used to make the corrections. The review goes much faster if the teacher does it. If, however, you are not too concerned with time, then have each group go over their corrections. I have done it both ways and both work well.
This is a fun way to have students review and apply rules of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. They don’t even realize they are learning and practicing, making everyone’s day much more enjoyable!