Grammar and Syntax: The Basics
Providing instruction in grammar and syntax skills can be overwhelming for SLPs. We sometimes only see our speech and language students 20 minutes per week, and there is a LOT of ground to cover when it comes to sentence structure.
I’ve tried different approaches throughout the years, but I’ve found the best way to go about it is to … start at the beginning. Seriously. Get back to the basics. You just might be surprised to discover how many of your students need to learn (or review) the foundational skills in this area.
In a previous post, I discussed why this skill area is so important for reading comprehension success. I recommend reading that if you haven’t yet!
Getting Started: Therapy Ideas
Teaching Definitions for Parts of Speech and Sentence Parts
So, what does a typical session look like when I’m addressing this area for the first time?
I begin by explaining the definition of a simple sentence, and then I discuss the parts of speech/ sentence parts that make up a simple sentence:
- a sentence is a complete thought
- it contains at least one subject and one verb
- a subject is a noun (person, place, thing, idea) or a pronoun
- I explain that though there are more types of verbs, we will start by discussing action verbs
- Additionally, I introduce modifiers: specifically, articles (a, an, the)
Word Sorting Activities
If your student is struggling with nouns or verbs (or any part of speech, for that matter), word or picture sorting activities are great for teaching this concept. It doesn’t need to be fancy: index cards or sticky notes will do the trick! This is a wonderful visual tool, and I use word/ picture sorts often.
Sentence Manipulation and Sentence Fill-in Activities
Have your students practice by building their own sentences. They can do a “sentence scramble” activity (you can use the same words you used from the word sorting activity). You could also provide part of a sentence, then ask them to choose or generate a word that would finish that sentence.
I’ve saved my favorite teaching tool for last. I absolutely LOVE sentence diagramming. In my opinion, there is no better way to visualize how words and sentence parts work together to form sentences. This has often been the missing ingredient for my students who struggle in this area. Here is how to diagram a simple sentence:
I hope you found this blog post helpful! If you are interested, you can grab my Advanced Grammar & Sentence Structure Program in my TpT store.