Learning English is tricky for those of us who are not multilingual learners. Now imagine how confusing the grammar rules for speech and language factor into the process for those children who may primarily speak another language at home. For ENL (English as a New Language) kids, we often need to assist them with grammar use in conversation. Developmentally, the proper use of the verb “to be” comes later. Playing games with repetitive sentences will help many children to become more comfortable using am, is, and are. When practicing within a game, kids are more willing to stick with it and not give up.
Pick any card game or short board game to use with a small group of children. You could use the Let’s Go Fishin’ game from Pressman Toys, or Uno by Mattel, depending on the age. Make a sequence of game play dialog to use with everyone. All players will use these when it is their turn for focus on proper use of is/am/are. An example with Uno would be:
- It is my turn.
- I am going to play a _____ card.
- I am going to draw a card to play.
- Now there are ____ cards left in my hands.
- It is now your turn _____.
The same general dialogue could be used with younger children and the fishing game. If you do not have this, make a fishing game. String and a magnet could be a fishing pole. Fish cards may be laminated with words and magnets on them to fish out of a play pond on the floor. The words on the fish will add another skill to practice while working on some conversational grammar. Another variation could be “fishing” for rubber ducks with words written on the bottom.
An easy option to send home for practice with older children is Hangman with dry erase boards. Put a dry erase board into a bag with some dry erase markers and a clean sock for cleaning the board. Include a sheet with instructions that all will be able to follow. Some multilingual families may need a translation included. Within the instructions have conversation prompts like:
- It is my turn.
- I am trying to think of a letter.
- Is there a ____?
- There are ____ letters left to pick from.
Younger children could have a letter with a hide and go seek game to try with their families. They can give clues in the same manner as above.
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