Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Grammar Practice with Animal Books for Kids

By Nancy Brekke, Reading Interventionist, Guest Blogger

Pronouns and prepositions can be tricky for children to understand. However, you can teach and practice grammar in an exciting way by incorporating nonfiction animal books for kids. Keep reading to see how you can help students understand pronouns and prepositions when they practice reading about interesting animals that are perfect for a unit on grasslands.

When you explain to students that the purpose of pronouns is to replace nouns, be sure to give examples of some singular and plural pronouns, such as it , they , and them . When you describe prepositions as words used to show location, don't forget to give visual support with each preposition, such as in written inside a hollow box, or on written on top of a circle. Doing this will be helpful because pronouns and prepositions are used in the text of several Zoozoo Animal World books that will be mentioned in today's blog post.

Anteater , Hyena , Warthog , Weasel , and Wildebeest are just a few excellent books to use to help students practice pronouns and prepositions during a grasslands unit. These nonfiction books are leveled between E–F, and engaging pictures will motivate your struggling readers in first grade. You can start each of your guided reading lessons by introducing fascinating Teacher Talking Points about each animal, which you can find inside each book. Then you can use the following steps to help kids learn about grammar.

Steps to Practice Prepositions with Anteater

  1. Review some of the facts that you shared from the Teacher Talking Points page and activate students' prior knowledge by asking the following questions: What does an anteater look like? Where do anteaters live? What do anteaters eat?
  2. Read Anteater with your class. Then have students retell the story in their own words to a partner.
  3. Explain that the purpose of a preposition is to show location. Then write the following prepositions on index cards: through, over, among, upon, in, on, by, between, under, up, near .
  4. Encourage kids to pretend they are anteaters by walking around the classroom on all fours. When you clap your hands, the students must freeze. When you hold up a preposition card, your students should read the word aloud and pretend they are in the location that the card indicates. For example, if up is the word on the card, they must pretend they are an anteater up in a tree. Repeat this with all of the preposition cards.

Steps to Practice Pronouns with Hyena

  1. Show the cover of Hyena and have them make predictions about where the hyena lives, what it eats, etc.
  2. Read Hyena in guided reading groups.
  3. After the groups are finished reading the book, explain to the class what nouns and pronouns are. Then explain that plural pronouns replace plural nouns, and be sure to show some examples, such as them, they, their, and us .
  4. Write the following two sentences on separate sentence strips: We learned about hyenas. Hyenas are interesting. Then read the sentences to the class.
  5. Have kids replace the word hyena with the plural pronoun them in the first sentence. Then have kids replace hyena with they in the second sentence.
  6. Review the following new sentences with students: We learned about them. They are interesting.

Steps to Practice Prepositions with Warthog

  1. Introduce Warthog by showing the cover and drawing students' attention to the warthog’s tusks. Then share some facts from the Teacher Talking Points page.
  2. Have students read the book with a partner. After reading the book, encourage partners to summarize the book together.
  3. Ask each set of partners to look through the text of the informational text and list all of the prepositions that they find.
  4. Next, explain that students need to write four sentences about warthogs with their partners. Remind them that each sentence should include a preposition.
  5. After sentences are written, have kids illustrate each of their sentences.

Steps to Practice Pronouns and Prepositions with Weasel

  1. Introduce and read Weasel to the guided reading group.
  2. After reading the leveled reader, have students make a chart on tag board by listing all the prepositions they found in the text on one side of the tag board. On the other side of the tag board, have them list all the pronouns they found in the book.
  3. Then have kids write three sentences with a pronoun and a preposition in each one.
  4. Encourage your students to highlight pronouns with one color and prepositions with a different color.
  5. After pronouns and prepositions are color-coded, have students illustrate their sentences.

Reviewing Prepositions and Comprehension with Wildebeest

  1. Begin the lesson by assessing background knowledge that students may have about wildebeests, such as what the animal looks like, where it lives, what it eats, etc. Then show the class the cover of Wildebeest to talk about how close their descriptions of the wildebeest were.
  2. Write the following questions on the board for students to practice reading comprehension strategies: Is this making sense? Why or why not? What have I learned so far? Should I slow down or speed up?
  3. Have students read the book together and ask for their responses to the questions as they read. Then have them work in pairs to summarize the main idea of the leveled book.
  4. Review prepositions by having one partner find a sentence in the book that contains a preposition and then read it to his or her partner. Then have the other partner act out the sentence. Encourage partners to switch roles to continue this grammar practice.

These activities will help your students improve their reading and writing skills while achieving the Common Core reading standards, as well as develop a love of reading. Visit our blog soon to find more engaging lesson ideas and teaching tips!

Nancy has taught grades 1–6, ESL students, and Reading Recovery. She is also a Reading Interventionist and an author of several titles in our Kaleidoscope Collection .