Saturday, February 2, 2013

We're Going On a NOUN HUNT!

Before I start into my most amazing post on a fun activity I recently did with my 60 writing students, I wanted to remind you that there is going to be an AMAZING SALE tomorrow on Teachers Pay Teachers. With Savings of up to 28%, you CAN NOT GO WRONG! So, after you read my post, pop on over to TpT and 'toss' some great resources in your shopping cart. Don't worry, there will be plenty of time before, during, and after the Super Bowl to 'tackle' the decision of what to buy! Don't 'fumble' the deal- REMEMBER TO USE PROMO CODE: SUPER!


I just wanted to start by saying that I hope that you are feeling like family here on our new blog, because we sure do enjoy having you, our good friends, visit with us often! Don't hesitate to pin ideas you see here either. I mean, SHARE THE WEALTH with those you know.

If you have been following my blog (An Educator's Life) you know that I have been doing a series of posts called Journey into Poetry Land. It has been quite the experience.

As I have taught this unit, I have also focused on grammar, more specifically NOUNS! I had assumed (and let me tell you what they say about that is very true!) that my kiddos knew what a noun was, and could easily pick out a common noun from a proper noun. I made the assumption because for the past several years they were being taught out of the school grammar basal program. (We started rotating 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classes this year, so I didn't know their level of understanding). Not only that, we had spent a month learning about the SUBJECT and PREDICATE of sentences. I mean, hellooooooooooo.... the subject is a noun. Did that help? Nope... nada...blank stare... ZILCH! Sigh....

I thought they had it! BOY WAS I WRONG! Holey Moley!

Each night, during this poetry unit, I have been assigning a poem that fits the concept we are studying and then assign them different "hunts" for each poem!

Underline common nouns.
Circle proper nouns
Box onomatopoeia
(and more).

Well, we had been doing this for several days and they were underlining PRONOUNS, ADJECTIVES, anything that had letters was fair game to them. Pretty much everything BUT the nouns. S-C-A-R-Y!

So, I told myself we needed to take a break from poetry and study NOUNS! Thus, my NOUN HUNT was created. I knew that it was going to be a challenge for them, even though it shouldn't have been.

I started by handing out the poetry books:

Then I handed out this page that I whipped up for this activity:

The students had to use the poetry books to find and fill in each section of the paper. 5 of each common noun and 10 proper nouns. It literally took the entire class period to get them all on the same page with common and proper nouns. (I am offering our readers this page for free. Click HERE to your copy! This is going to be included in my soon to be released NOUN unit. Enjoy! If you download, please leave a comment so we know you were here! I would also love to hear how you used the resource as well. Thanks )

Do all my students have a perfect knowledge of nouns? Heavens no, but this activity, combined with the nightly noun hunts on each poem, have really helped the vast majority really start to grasp nouns. In fact, many are even able to pick out the "idea" nouns much more readily that I ever would have thought possible.

Now... I am going to start tackling the concept of plural nouns, so stay tuned for news on how that goes!

What about you? What strategies or lessons do YOU use to teach nouns to your students?

Find me here:
Teacher's Notebook
An Educator's Life

P.S. Don't miss my Share the Wealth Freebie Linky going on RIGHT NOW over at an Educator's Life. I would love to have you stop by and 'score' big on FREE resources!


  1. What an EXCELLENT idea! Thanks for the freebie.

    I'm always amazed when I ask my fifth graders to find the verb and they say "grandma." I sometimes want to pull my hair out!

    When we studied nouns, I created a "Noun Town" in our classroom and students had to bring in pictures that could fit in our imaginary town. They had to identify what type of noun it was (common/proper, singular/plural, people/place/ thing(animal)/idea). That helped solidify the concept and the kiddos LOVED the display.

    We did a huge unit on nouns, one on verbs, and we're doing pronouns now. I'm going to save your chart for a re-cap activity (or maybe a pop quiz!)

    Thanks again,
    Joy in the Journey

    1. Hey Jessica!
      Thanks for stopping by. I appreciated hearing your insight and input. Noun Town sounds like a lot of fun. What a very creative idea. I may have to think up something similar to that to help my students as well.

      I hope you enjoy the freebie!

  2. I hear you! For about fifteen years, I taught just English to varying ability levels, so parts of speech have been the bane of my existence for as long as I can remember! They still can be, but now with just an advanced English class, it's not AS difficult (but I still have my days). I actually like them myself, but I can get frustrated with how little they seem to retain from previous years (when I KNOW their teachers taught all of this) as they enter sixth grade.

    I have had to develop so many teacher tricks and tips along the way for identifying parts of speech. We are responsible in the sixth grade curriculum for making sure all of them are mastered. I always start with nouns in September and developed the "Mrs. S. Secret Noun Tricks" to help them with the tricky ones.:)

    I have started to also give cumulative tests after each part of speech including all previously covered parts of speech. I was finding that they would master the material for the test, but when we moved to the next part of speech, they got rusty on the ones already covered. I keep trying to incorporate nouns, verbs, pronouns (as well as usage such as nouns and pronouns as subjects, etc.), adjectives, adverbs, etc. even when we are covering other parts like conjunctions (which we are starting now). It is really making a difference!

    Thanks for sharing your ideas! :) I always enjoy them!

    1. Hey Friend!
      Thanks for your comments. I WISH I could only work with advanced students. But, there is the challenge that can be exciting as well. If I can get my kiddos through nouns and verbs this year, I will chalk it up as a victory.

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post. Have a great day. :)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Whoops! I tried to add more to my post and something happened! Sorry about that! I am still technologically inept!

    Oh, I don't work with only advanced kids. That's just for English. I have all groups for reading including a special education/inclusion classroom. There are two life skills students who are sometimes mainstreamed into that class as well. If I thought teaching English was challenging with some of the groups, I find reading even more challenging because there is no formula or set of rules like English. It's so much more abstract to them. I do like working with my lowest group the most, though. They seem to have the most fun with school and all of the activities we do.

    However, all the years I taught English to all groups (including the special ed/inclusion group), I was still responsible for getting them to mastery with all parts of speech. You can only imagine the challenge! Our sixth grade curriculum for all students includes teaching parts of speech to mastery. Argghh! Count everything you teach them as a victory! That's what I do! It truly is. :)

    1. Sorry! :)
      I didn't mean to suggest that you got to kick back and let the kiddos teach themselves. I know you are an amazing, hard working teacher. I appreciate your insight and thoughts.
      Also, AMEN To the counting anything they learn as a victory! WAHOO!

  4. A tip I use to determine nouns is to have students ask:
    "Is there such thing as a/an ___________?" Yes = noun No = not a noun
    Is there such thing as an ugly?
    They laugh about it but it works.

    1. What a fun activity! I will have to play that as a game when we review this week!
      Thanks so much!

  5. Seriously best activity I have seen for nouns! I used to do a Newspaper search where they would cut them out and glue them on a sheet but what was that teaching besides fine motor skills and how to get messy with newsprint. I love how they are using actual books they are reading and finding them and then rewriting them! Awesome job!

    1. Hey Jennifer!
      Thanks for your kind words. It has been fun to see them grow in noun understanding. Your comment made me laugh about motor skills and mess making. There is something to be said for that too! :)
      I do try to use trade books as much as possible. They seem to connect better to them than a basal.

  6. Love these ideas - both the book searches and the Noun Town. All parts of speech are a struggle in grade 3, I find! For nouns I've done something similar to YearntoLearn above - we ask "What is a/an...?" It helps a little but not always. I'm trying to do grammar more in writing now - we wrote diamante poems recently in a noun, adjective, adjective, verb, verb,verb, adverb etc format. That was pretty good and reinforced all the parts of speech and we got some great poems as well :) Last week we were writing complex sentences so I continually referred to parts of speech as we built sentence after sentence. They just don't retain it though so we keep on repeating over and over :)

    1. AMEN!
      I have to tell myself that these skills are not being retained because they don't think about them outside my classroom. That is why I send home poems for them to interact with. That alone is seeming to help several of the students more. Thanks for your thoughts and good luck in the future. Let me know if you have any more amazing ideas! :)

  7. After reading all of your comments, this makes me glad to not be a teacher, although as a published author I do have to teach some of the skills used in writing and that would include using the parts of speech. After explaining what my state series is about, the first question I get asked, "Are you a teacher?" and when I was growing up, my friends used to say to me all the time, "Elizabeth, you should become a teacher." My choice was always medical though. I wanted to work in the medical field but I didn't want to be a doctor or a nurse, not because I'm afraid of needles or blood -both fascinate me greatly - but because I had other ideas of what to do. I thought possibly a laboratory technician would be a good field but after not doing so well with advanced math classes (even though math was one of my best subjects) such as calculus, that option became out of mind. I enjoyed typing and when I finally got my degree in medical secretary with a minor in word processing, I decided that transcription was for me. A couple of years I did teach a transcription course at the local college for one semester and enjoyed it very much. So maybe, I should have been a teacher after all but alas, I'm settled in my medical job and writing books for kids that do have an educational side to them, so by way of my books I'm teaching something.

    I really feel bad for you teachers out there having such a rough time with the kids learning nouns, verbs and other parts of speech. I think you all are offering several great ideas that can be interchanged to use across the board. I especially like the Noun Town (Hum, Mr. Hughes, would that be rhyme as taught in poetry lesson last week? - lol) idea and can see how that could help. Pictures usually help in this case because if you can see a picture, then it makes the item more tangible and therefore more related to being a noun. Ideas as nouns are harder to show and teach to students because they can't see them or pull pictures of them as they can with the person, place or thing concept. I wish I had something to offer to help with this concept but alas, I'mnot the teacher in the group - lol. I look forward to seeing what other ideas you all come up with. Mrs. E :)

    Elysabeth Eldering
    Author of Finally Home, a middle grade/YA mystery

    Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery, trivia series

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. You are more of a teacher than you realize! I sure appreciate you being in the class (via Google Talk) twice a week and I know the kiddos do too. Cheers!

  8. It's frustrating that they can't all be grammar geeks like me (or us?). Sometimes I think they're the normal ones and I'm weird for liking parts of speech, haha. But I love the idea of hunting for nouns in poetry books. I used to do a parts of speech activity with poetry too, but color code them as they collected words (nouns yellow, verbs green, and so on). Then they'd tear them out and do a sort of "magnet poetry" thing with all their words (pasting them down and adding in as few extra words as possible). I called it Torn Paper Poetry. I hope I'm "allowed" to squeeze it in this year. Your template is great for breaking nouns down further for kids who are being too "greedy" with their noun collections and writing everything, haha.

    1. What a fantastic idea and thanks for sparking my candle of inspiration. Ha ha. I think it would be awesome to just have them color code right on a copy of a poem. Very cool indeed.
      Thanks for sharing!

  9. Hey I really like your noun sheets they are awesome. :) They are also very simple for the children to use and refer back to. As a trainee teacher you always look for ideas to bring to your classroom. Thanks for the inspiration.

    I hope you can hop along to my blog too,
    All the best,


    1. Hey Ben,
      Thanks so much for your thoughts. I am so pleased that I was able to give your creativity a boost! I hope you will stop by often and see what other goodies we here at All Things Upper Elementary have to offer! :)

  10. Thanks so much for the nifty freebie. I am a speech/language assistant and always on the lookout for resources to tackle the elusive parts of speech at the middle school level. I use their classroom texts for reinforcement. Seems that vocab and grammar are not explicitly taught as frequently as I recall as a student. But then I am ancient. :)

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your insight and thought. I agree that parts of speech can be elusive... sigh! I wish you great success with the Noun Hunt!


Thank you for your comment! We appreciate your input!

-All Things Upper Elementary

Blogging tips