I remember the first time I tried to teach parts of speech to Baloo. He was about 6 or 7 and we were working through First Language Lessons. I loved that it was open and go.
So we started with the poem which he memorized…eventually. But probably only because I read it to him multiple times every single day.
But I could never get him to remember the definition of a noun. Not even the gist of the idea.
He didn’t care about nouns – he was 6. He cared about trains and Minecraft.
Years later, we came across MadLibs. I have fond memories of MadLibs from my childhood so, of course, I had to get them for my kids.
The Mad Libs were an immediate hit. My kids didn’t just enjoy them, they loved them.
They asked to play MadLibs constantly.
And it didn’t take long for me to realize the educational benefit.
It’s a whole lesson on the parts of speech!
I didn’t even have to ask them to memorize the parts of speech – it started to come naturally.
After hearing the definition with examples multiple times for each story, they were becoming really good at knowing the definitions.
Why Learning Parts of Speech is Important
Honestly, I don’t think it’s that important to be able to list the parts of speech by memory. Or to define each one any time you’re asked.
But there are benefits to knowing your parts of speech.
- It makes playing Mad Libs a lot easier.
- Understanding correct grammar is much more difficult without a basic understanding of the parts of speech.
- It’s easier to construct sentences or identify incorrectly structured sentences when you understand the parts of speech.
Being completely honest, I’ve made it this far in life without a thorough understanding of all of the parts of speech. I can get through the basic ones with no issue, but I can’t spit out the definition of a proposition.
Is my grammar perfect? No, I’m sure it’s not.
I also cannot tell you when to use who or whom.
I do want my kids to know these things, but not at the risk of burning them out on grammar.
They love learning but they struggle when it’s boring or if it’s something they find useless. So finding something fun, like Mad Libs, makes learning Parts of Speech a breeze.
And then I don’t have to worry if it’s important or not. They’re learning it while having fun!
And when they’re a bit older and motivated to learn these things, it won’t involve me fighting with them to learn it.
MadLibs You Should Check Out
Mad Libs have never disappointed us, so I’m not picky when we get new ones.
However, I’ve found my kids really enjoy themed ones. They get way more excited when it’s a favorite theme.
We bought Meow Libs which has been super popular.
When my kids are begging to do something I consider educational, I figure it’s a hit.
I added a few of our favorites below.
Are MadLibs enough of a grammar course?
If you want your child to have a decent understand of the complexities of the English language, then MadLibs aren’t really going to do it.
First of all, MadLibs make some cringe-worthy sentences. You cannot simply exchange any adjective for any other adjective and expect it to make sense.
Second, MadLibs may teach the parts of speech but they don’t cover the relationships between the parts of speech or how to put them together in a sentence.
However, I think MadLibs are incredibly valuable when it comes to understand the parts of speech and how to identify them.
And since we repeat the definition of each part of speech many times while we play, I think MadLibs help my kids to remember to real definition of each.
What should I use for grammar then?
We don’t do formal grammar lessons until at least late middle school/early high school.
My opinion is that kids will pick up on most grammar issues through every day use and reading great books.
We plan to use some grammar curriculum in high school if needed.
I’m not yet tied down to the idea of a specific grammar curriculum but I wouldn’t cross off the idea either.
However, I have had a few pieces of curriculum recommended to me and I feel comfortable passing them on:
First Language Lessons – yes, this is the one I mentioned earlier that wasn’t for us. However, it seemed like a solid system.
Should I bother with grammar?
I can’t tell anyone else what they should or should not do. My opinion is that you should follow your child’s lead.
Are they interested in improving their writing skills or learning to speak more clearly?
If yes, then work on grammar!
If they aren’t and they’re struggling with grammar lessons or outright bored with grammar, considering tabling the grammar lessons for now.
You know your kids best so follow your gut, follow their lead, and worry not!
I’d rather encourage them to work on creative writing (in whatever form they find interesting) and work on grammar through feedback.
I’m not entirely sure that we’ll ever go through a program specifically for grammar as I feel that they’re learning grammar rules sufficiently through reading.