If you ask students what their favorite subject is, it’s a rare kid who will say grammar. If you ask teachers the same question, it’s also a rare teacher who will say that s/he enjoys teaching grammar more than any other subject. Grammar doesn’t have to be the equivalent of eating your educational vegetables, though—it can be dynamic, fun, and empowering. Using these apps can help students realize just how fun grammar can be—while training them to understand it more completely.
These two apps are very similar and work as the reward for understanding parts of speech. Madlibs and Sparklefish both ask users to offer random, but correct, answers to fill-in-the-blank parts of speech prompts. Once the list is complete, the parts of speech are inserted into stories, creating an often hilarious narrative that rewards users for their creativity. These apps work to test users on their grammar knowledge while allowing them to have fun.
Voted the Best Free Ed App of 2012, this app has been called the “Schoolhouse Rock for the 21st Century” and with good reason. Full of amazingly catchy animated videos and songs followed by quizzes to test new knowledge, this app creates a “town” centered on every part of speech, with the parts of speech as animated characters whose personalities embody their role. The Noun section is free, but all of the other parts of speech require an in-app purchase. At the very least, the app will provide an entertaining way to introduce the parts of speech to students who may find music and motion a better way to learn. Who knows what kind of strides they may make when they have those catchy tunes running through their heads all day?
The Grammar Girl is the Internet’s global grammar guru. Her online “Quick and Dirty Tips” offer quick lessons on typically troublesome topics (affect and effect, anyone?), her Twitter feed is widely followed, she has an enormous Facebook fan base, and her iTunes podcast offers an engaging look at grammar. While perhaps not as interactive or as fun as a game-based learning tool, Grammar Girl is certainly an engaging resource when grammar confusion interrupts great writing.
Developed by the Grammar Girl, Grammar Pop is an app that challenges users to identify the part of speech in context. The app provides challenging, real-world sentences with a part of speech to identify; the goal, of course, is to answer a series of questions correctly in order to advance to the next round. The coin bonuses are somewhat superfluous, but the encouragement to keep trying when a user makes an error and the built-in motivation to beat a personal best will be a great resource for students who need to take their grammar instruction from the abstract to the contextual.
Prepositions are probably one of the most under-taught parts of speech, but they are essential to understanding how a complex sentence works. We love the focus on these unsung heroes of the English language in this app. Rated 2012’s Best Teaching App, Preposition Builder asks users to drag and drop the correct preposition into the image. If an incorrect answer is chosen, the app not only indicates this but CHANGES the image to show the user how that choice changes the meaning of the sentence. For visual learners, this is a brilliant way to demonstrate how one small change can dramatically affect meaning—and how important grammatically correct writing really is.
This app is designed to help children build grammatically correct sentences from the ground up. Users are presented with a dynamic, colorful image to create a sentence about, with one noun as the focus. The app then focuses attention on the other parts of speech—articles, pronouns, verbs, adjectives—and asks users to choose from a series of options to create a sentence that not only makes grammatical sense but also reflects what’s happening in the image. This app is especially great for the classroom because each user has his or her own stats page, allowing teachers to check in on progress.
Go under the sea for a skill and drill test of grammar understanding. This app uses beautiful animation and fun “worlds” to offer students a way of testing their grammar knowledge. Users may be quizzed on the correct adjective in context, the correct noun based on the criteria offered, or the verb in a sentence. Definitely geared toward younger grades, this app was created by McGraw-Hill School Education Group, a fairly reputable textbook creator.
Put your students in the snarky shoes of a bitter teaching assistant in this hilarious app that combines comedy with some serious grammar/spelling drills. The app provides users with sample writings from the classes of a grumpy old professor, committed to failing all students everywhere based on grammatical and spelling errors. As the TA, a user’s job is to find the errors as quickly as possible. It requires quick reading, excellent understanding and recognition of errors, and the ability to find errors even when they seem hidden. The snarky nature of the grumpy professor makes it fun, and the app may even offer your students a small glimpse of your life as a teacher. Definitely geared toward older students—or even teachers who need to dust off the old red pen—this app is both challenging and fun.
Grammar doesn’t need to be all diagramming sentences and woe. Have some fun with your students with these tools and apps geared toward helping them learn about grammar while also keeping their senses of humor.