Grade: all

#937. Grammar War

Reading/Writing, level: all
Posted Fri Apr 2 11:17:26 PST 1999 by Beverly Jacobson (
Mountain Home High School, Mountain Home, ID
Materials Required: a bulletin board or poster board for keeping score, "war" decorations, newspapers
Activity Time: flexible
Concepts Taught: Any grammar unit

This is a competition which can enliven any grammar unit. I did it with a subject/verb agreement unit, but you can probably use this format for anything. Days, times, activities are all flexible. Be creative!

Day 1:
My students came to class and found me wearing a full set of BDU's (battle dress uniform), which I borrowed from my Air Force husband. I explained that they were going to be involved in a war--to fight for proper usage of subjects and verbs. We divided the class into groups, and each group chose to be a particular country. The country names were posted on the bulletin board so that they could know what their scores were after each day. Teams could earn points, and individuals could earn points for their teams. First, each student who took neat and complete notes earned 50 points for their team (notes were checked on the day of the quiz). After explaining the "war," we went over several S/V agreement rules with examples. Then the first battle began:
Battle on the Board
Teams aligned themselves in rows. I taped slips of paper in front of them on the board with a set of sentences (identical for each group). Students did a relay race to choose the correct verbs. First team to finish with all correct got bonus points; everyone got points for correct sentences.

Day 2:
Battle of the Newspaper
More s/v rules. Students practiced by finding examples of compound subjects, indefinite pronouns used as subjects, etc. in newspapers. Points were awarded accordingly. (Individuals earned points for correct homework assignments, also, which we checked in class.)

Day 3:
Battle of the Alien Story
More s/v rules. Students practiced by racing to find the correct verbs in a story with an ambiguous ending.

Day 4:
Last set of rules. Teams worked together to write an ending to the story from the previous day, using correct verbs. They had to follow certain parameters in order to make sure they practiced. For example, I required 2 indefinite pronoun subjects that required singular verbs, 2 that required plural verbs, and so on.

Day 5:
Grammar quiz. I checked notebooks and awarded points accordingly. I've used different prizes; the winning country in my honors class got to have a pizza party the last day of the unit. The winning country in my at-risk class received bonus points, and we did a first, second, third place point allotment.

The "war" idea can carry over into just about anything. Just after I did this unit with my grammar students, I taught literature of the Revolutionary period to my American lit classes. We ended up doing a "Revolutionary War," with each team being one of the colonies. It worked!

I'd love to hear your comments if you decide to try something like this. Have fun with it! My students unanimously agreed: this was the best grammar unit they had ever had.