Grammatical Awareness Activities

1. Colour parsing

  • Language: Present Simple/ general questions
  • Materials: coloured chalk, coloured pencils
  • Time: 20-30 min
  • Four colours are needed: red for verbs (‘like’, ’love’, ’hate’); blue for subject pronouns (‘I’, ’you’, ’she’, ’he’, ’etc’.); yellow for auxiliary verbs (‘do’, ‘does’) and green for nouns for food (‘pizza’, ‘coffee’, ‘tea’, ‘bananas’, ‘tomatoes’).
  • The teacher divides the board into two halves. On the left he/she writes some words that fit into the chosen sentence structure. The teacher underlines the verb in red and invites the children to underline other red words. Then he/she does the same with blue, yellow and green words.
  • The teacher writes his/her model sentence on the right of the board and asks the children to underline the words in the appropriate colours.
  • The teacher shows the children how to make other sentences like his/hers, using the words on the left. Then they make some of their own. They read the sentences and write under the model.
  • The children do a questionnaire. Before the children go around the room, the teacher asks the questions and notes down the answers ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’ makes them form the questions and writes them on the board as well as makes sure they know how to correctly pronounce the questions.
Find: Name
Alice John Tom Jane
1.    Someone who likes bananas No
2.    Three people who love chocolate No
3.    Two people who like pizza Yes
4.    Three people who love milk Yes
5.    Someone who hates spinach No
6.    Two people who hate coffee No

As a follow up, the children may be asked to analyse the answers and form  affirmative sentences (revision), for example, ‘John likes bananas’. ‘Alice, Tom and Jane like pizza’.

2. Stepping stones

  • Language: any grammar structure
  • Materials: two pieces of ribbon to mark the banks of the river on the floor; some cardboard (or any other material) stones across it (you can also draw a board game instead); cardboard frogs for each team; one pile of cards with questions and, optionally, piles of cards with answers for each team
  • Time: 20-30min
  • Students are divided into teams. Teams take turns in drawing cards with questions, they read questions aloud and try to give the answer (or match the answer). If the answer is correct, the team scores one point. For each point the frog goes forward one stone. The first team to reach the other side of the river wins the game.


3. Playing cards: Snap

  • Language: any grammar structure, e.g. Present Simple Passive
  • Materials: one set of cards (20 pairs) for each pair of students
  • Time: 15-20min
  • The teacher prepares sets of 20 pairs of cards consisting of one card with a sentence in an active voice and the corresponding card with the sentence transformed into passive voice. The teacher shuffles the cards and deals between the players.
  • The students keep their cards on a pile face down. Each of them takes a card from the top of their files and puts it on the table face up. If the cards do not match, they leave them on the table. However, if they constitute a pair, the students say ‘Snap!’ and cover them with a hand. The first one to do it takes all the cards that are on the table. The student who collects all the cards is the winner.


More activities and tips for English teachers with dyslexic students: coming soon!

Source: Dyslexia in the  Foreign Language Classroom, by Joanna Nijakowska


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