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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Grammar for Kids - Third Person Singular S

Today I'm going to share with you an activity that I did with a group of young learners aged six and seven.
The aim of the activity, which took place over two lessons, was to introduce HE/SHE/NAME + LIKES, as well as to find out about the children's interests. The inspiration for the first part was an activity shared by Andrea Littlewood at TESOL Spain last month. Thank you Andrea!

Part 1

In her talk, Andrea spoke about the importance of finding out about your learners. This can help create a positive atmosphere in the classroom and it helps learners feel that the teacher cares. Just knowing that a child has a baby brother or that they love Real Madrid, means that the teacher can ask that child personalised questions. This makes the children feel that the teacher is really interested in their lives and can help avoid discipline problems.

We had covered I LIKE and I DON'T LIKE last term, when we were looking at the topic Healthy Eating.
For this reason, talking about their likes was not a very challenging task, but I wanted to provide new vocabulary, particularly language that the learners wanted to know. I asked the children to draw the outline of an object they liked on a piece of paper. I insisted that this outline filled the page (kids tend to draw very small things) and did an example on the board. I drew an open book, saying I like reading books.
I wanted the children to start using verbs as well as nouns (reading, playing, swimming etc).

The children drew their outlines and told us their own sentence. I then drew pictures of other things I liked inside my book outline (trainers - for running, chocolate, flowers, playing the computer etc) and elicited from the class the names of those objects/activities. The children then drew all kinds of things they liked inside their pictures. I encouraged them by telling them to think of food, toys, games, places, TV programmes and so on.

Part 2

Another tip by Andrea, was to use Post-It notes to provide individualised vocabulary for each learner. I asked each learner to name the things in their picture and provided them with the written word on a note. This is a very small group so I could do this as a class, but with larger groups you may wish to do it while they are drawing by going round and writing the words as they draw.

I the asked them if they remembered the things that I liked (the board was clean by now) and I wrote sentences:

I like reading books.
I like running.
I like eating chocolate.
I like music etc

I then gave the children their word notes back and told them that they were going to write their sentences on slips of paper I had already prepared. When each child had finished writing, I asked them to read their sentences to me and then find the picture that illustrated each sentence, to make sure they knew the meaning of all the new vocabulary.

Part 3

In the following lesson, I jumbled all the sentences and put them on my desk. I also put a blank poster on one wall and divided into sections - one for each child. I put their drawings on another wall. What they had to do was:
1) Pick up a slip of paper and read the sentence. If it was their own, they should change it for another.
2) Go to look at the drawings and find out who wrote the sentence. E.g For the sentence I like playing the guitar they should find a drawing of a guitar on somebody's picture. They would then know who write the sentence.
Slips of paper on desk
3) Stick the sentence on the right part of the poster.

Here are some pictures to illustrate:

One child's drawing

This is how the poster looked when all the sentences had been added:

Part 4

I then wanted them to be able to talk about each other's likes and dislikes.

You may be thinking that six and seven year olds are too young to understand different verb forms, especially when teenagers and adults tend to have trouble remembering to add the "third person S". However, in this case, all they need to know is that we add an S. In fact, if I can actually get them to continue doing so, this will help avoid that very problem in the future.

I quickly drew up this poster (excuse the presentation but I did it while the kids were sticking the sentences).

I went through the differences, pointing to a boy and a girl in the class, to elicit the difference between HE and SHE. I think it is important that, as well as knowing the form of the third person singular, that the children know that this is how they can talk about other people.

We then went back to the poster (I actually stuck this mini-poster next to it so that it would be visible at all times) and I asked them to say what a classmates liked. We did this as a chain, so that if somebody said Arturo likes the sea, it would then be Arturo's turn. This made sure they would listen to each other. I also told them that if somebody said a sentence that was wrong (i.e. the sentence had been put in the wrong place) that they could say No, I don't!

In this way, we practised using the third person singular verb form. Now the children are able to talk about others as well as themselves. I think that this is an important skill - the children need to be taught to listen to each other and to talk about each other. The next step could be to teach WE and ask them to find out things they have in common, using the poster to do so.
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