One of the problems children have with writing (besides poor spelling) is difficulty with conventions, basic grammar, and English usage. If we teach writing with the same step-by-step approach that we should be using when we teach reading, we may be able to eliminate some of the problems our students carry with them into middle and high school.
We can start by teaching our students the vocabulary of grammar, as well as how to use particular kinds of words when they first begin to write sentences.
Here is an easy way to begin teaching grammar to students in mid-first or in second grade:
1. Start with verbs. Define it: “A verb is an action word.” Then give them a few examples such as: run, walk, sit stand, smile, play, etc.
2. Ask students to tell you what a verb is (“an action word”).
3. Write a sentence for them and ask them which word is the verb.
4. Ask students to help as you write some sentences on the board and find the verb in each one.
5. Ask your students to write a few simple sentences of their own and underline the action word.
Review and repeat this exercise for a few days. You can this by asking students to help you make a list of verbs that you write on the board. (Keep it simple. Don’t teach helping verbs until later on.) Then they make up sentences using those verbs. They could also make silly sentences using the verb list that you made together.
Don’t forget to teach students to capitalize the first letter that begins each sentence and to put a period at the end of each sentence! That will cover the first lesson in grammar, capitalization, and punctuation.