Using Manipulatives to Teach Grammar

When I began my teaching career nearly 30 years ago, it was at the same time that instructional frameworks such as writer’s workshop and reading workshop were introduced.  It was also in the 1980s that ELA teachers were instructed to “teach grammar in context”. We knew through George Hillocks’s work that teacher grammar out of context didn’t work. As a new teacher, I witnessed that truth first-hand. Yet, teaching grammar in context is a labor-intensive pedagogy.  As it was, I felt overwhelmed as a new teacher and I needed to find some solutions.

When I pondered some possible instructional approaches to teaching grammar, I considered its abstract nature. I mused, “What about other subjects that are abstract?” The teaching of mathematics immediately came to mind and I knew that manipulatives were an effective tool in teaching the abstract concepts in this subject. As a result, I created some grammar lessons that focused on playing and manipulating language. I created grammar lessons that were based on using manipulatives to teach the nuances of language. It was highly successful and I compiled all of the lessons in my book, Hands on Grammar. Here is a sample lesson:


If you’d like more lessons, I created a USB with over 50 lessons, including the PDF version of my Hands on Grammar book. Chick here to order.