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Children Dread Finding all Those Nouns on the Worksheet! So How Do You Teach Children Nouns?

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Children Dread Finding

all Those Nouns on the Page!

I truly believe that one of the biggest mistakes made by grammar teachers and grammar curriculum creators is to give children worksheets loaded with nouns and then to ask them to underline all the nouns on that worksheet. 

You see, we just assume that if we tell a child that a noun is a person, place, thing or idea, that they will be able to identify a noun.  WRONG!  To them, that’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.  While it’s true that “practice makes perfect,” the following equation is also true:

 A dreaded grammar assignment entitled Finding All the Nouns


“Well, sometimes I find the nouns and sometimes I don’t.”


“I hate learning grammar!”


Yes, it is important that children learn that nouns are persons, places, things, animals, and ideas, but it’s even more important that children learn where in a sentence they might find a person, a place, a thing, an animal, or an idea.


Let’s put this concept into “Mommy or Daddy” terms.  Let’s suppose that it’s the middle of the night and you’re dog tired from a hard day working and talking and creating.  You’ve crawled into bed, you’re nice and warm under the covers, and your child comes to you and asks, “Will you help me find my furry (toy) puppy?  I lost him, and I can’t sleep without him.” 


Your first question back is probably going to be: “Where do you think you left Puppy?”


If your child answers, “Well, the last time I played with him, I was in the garage,” you will probably start searching for that little dog in the garage and you will know that it won’t be too long before you find his little furry hide and you’re back underneath those warm bed covers.


However, if your child answers, “I don’t know where he is; that’s why I need you to help me find him!” then you’re going to dread getting out of bed and spending who knows how long searching who knows where for that dog.


Your only clues to finding him will be that you know he’s on the grounds somewhere, you know he’s furry, you know his color, you know his shape, you know his size, and you know that you’re tired, and that this isn’t going to be fun.   


Let’s relate that scenario with handing a worksheet to a child and having him “practice recognizing nouns” by instructing him to underline all the persons, places, things, ideas, and animals he finds on the page.  Come on!  Most children are going to dread that kind of assignment because:


     a) They have no idea what a noun looks like.   

     b) They have no idea where to look for nouns.

     c) They’re not sure they’re even going to like nouns.


We all know that everyone learns best by “doing.” Children are no exception to this rule. However, “doing” something is not always the most constructive way of learning something if the thing we have a child “do” becomes nothing more to him than just one more hit/n/miss assignment in busywork. 


However, teaching nouns does not have to be just one more busywork assignment.  When children know how a sentence is put together and where in that sentence they will find the nouns, then underlining all the nouns in that sentence now becomes a task that is achievable, a task they can accomplish and be proud of.


In fact, teaching children to build their own creative sentences is one of the best ways to:

     a) clarify for children what makes up a complete sentence


     b) teach them where in a sentence they will find all the nouns.  



Does that sound difficult?  It’s not.  


What’s more,

teaching children 

to build creative sentences 

can be FUN! 


It’s true!  Moreover, the best way to teach children to write their own creative sentences is to teach them to create sentences

out loud,

one on one,

student and teacher playing with sentence construction together,

starting with an action verb,

and having FUN!


By starting with an action verb, children learn all the other parts of a sentence and how those parts relate to the verb.  In so doing, children learn where to look for verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs etc.


After a child has learned to construct his own creative sentence, he will not have any problem identifying the signal words that tell him that a noun is coming; he will not have any problem knowing where in a sentence he will find nouns.


For just $3.97, you can teach your children exactly how to write a good, creative sentence and how to use that teaching to show them where they will find all “the nouns.” 


Teaching Children to Write Creative Sentences – check it out.




Carol Kay, President

Candy 4WAY Phonics