Strong writers play with words, phrases, and clauses like puzzle pieces, moving them around to find the best fit. Help your child begin to recognize the “pieces” of their sentences with this color-coding activity.
Color-coding sentences is exactly what it sounds like: A multisensory, tactile grammar activity in which your child underlines or lightly shades over each word in a sentence based on its part of speech.
Using colors to support learning is a strategy that helps children categorize concepts, make meaningful connections, identify patterns, and retain information. In this activity color-coding teaches your child to pay close attention to the function and position of words in a sentence.
Your child will need two things:
1. A set of colored pencils
2. Sentence sets. You may choose to write the sentences for your child at first. Another option is to re-purpose online grammar worksheets from textbooks or sites like ereadingworksheets.com, which categorizes worksheets by grade and topic. If you do not have confidence in your own grammar knowledge, look for worksheets with prepared answer keys. A third option, but one best used once students have truly mastered their parts of speech, is to work with sentences from your child’s own personal writing. (This is a great revision exercise, too!)
Next, establish a color for each part of speech. For example:
Keep the color-code system the same throughout your child’s grammar studies.
Begin working with short, simple sentences. Gradually increase the length and complexity of the sentences when your child demonstrates both accuracy and quickness. Here’s a sample progression:
- The bird sang.
- The beautiful bird sang.
- The beautiful bird sang loudly.
- The beautiful bird sang loudly in the tree.
- The beautiful bird sang loudly from the branches of a towering oak tree.
- High in the branches of a towering oak tree, a beautiful bird sang loudly and then flew away.
- From the branches of a towering oak tree, a beautiful bird sang loudly as the sun rose.
- Wow, can you hear that beautiful bird singing in the oak tree?
As your child color codes, ask them to identify patterns:
- Where is the adjective in relation to the noun? Where is the adverb in relation to the verb?
- Which words always follow a preposition?
- How is an interjection set apart from the rest of a sentence?
These patterns are essentially the rules of grammar. When brought to light through color-coding, your child learns how to effectively use the parts of speech to craft his own descriptive sentences.