How to teach subject verb agreement to third graders
ESL | Grammar | Teaching | Teaching English

How Do You Teach Subject Verb Agreement To Third Graders?

Teaching subject-verb agreement to third graders may seem like a tedious task. While grammar lessons typically rely on lengthy explanations and worksheets, there are ways to get your third graders excited about the topic. Use physical activities, and exciting lesson plans to make your grammar lesson come alive.

Physical activities help third graders understand grammar lessons. Get your students involved in learning subject-verb agreement with pictures, role play, flashcards, etc. Use models like “Engage, Study, and Activate” to help your class get excited, learn, and consolidate their knowledge.

If you are looking for great ways to liven up your third-grade English class, anticipating teaching grammar concepts like a subject-verb agreement is probably not high on your list of exciting ideas. What if we revealed that there are ways to make grammar lessons fun? We are passionate about bringing solid teaching ideas right to you. You will love our ideas for teaching subject-verb agreement to your third graders.

How Do You Teach Subject-Verb Agreement To Third Graders?

When planning your lessons on subject-verb agreement, it is best to separate the information into sections. 

Let’s look at the sections you should use:

  • Subjects (singular)
  • Subjects (plural)
  • Verbs (singular)
  • Verbs (plural)
  • Sentences using singular subjects and verbs
  • Sentences using plural subjects and verbs

Before your students can begin working with subject-verb agreement, they will need to know what each section means. Be sure to revise subjects and verbs in their singular and plural forms to set them up for success in your agreement lesson. We have plenty of tense and verb resources on the site ( for free) for you to checkout as well. Check the link or the picture below.

We also have other resources through out the article, or just do a search for verbs in the search box above 🙂

Revision Idea for Subjects

Subjects are who or what the sentence is about. To revise subjects, prepare a few pictures of characters for fun sentences. Place one picture at a time on the board and invite volunteers to write the words under them.

A few examples could be:

  • The man
  • The mom
  • The dog
  • The girl
  • The bike
  • The pumpkin

Next, discuss how we can change these words to plural. Have flashcards with the letter “s” for words that become plural with an “s .” Invite volunteers to change the singular subjects to plural by sticking an “s” card on the end of a word.

As a class, read through the list, both as singular and plural.

Please note: If you have selected pictures for words that change spelling when plural, E.g., Woman, goose, etc., be sure to have flashcards to match those.

Revision Idea For Verbs

To do a quick recap of verbs, you could play a game that gets your students out of their chairs.  Have a contest, either as a whole class or in groups. Write or place one verb on the board at a time. The first person or group to perform the action is the winner. The overall winners can get prizes if you wish, or just be the stars of the class for the day.

Hint:  Throw in some funny verbs to keep the activity fun and funny.

Some examples of verbs you can use for this revision activity could include:

  • Jump
  • Twirl
  • Stomp
  • Laugh
  • Clap
  • Wiggle

 We have 13 worksheets and a link to an action verb game below as well.

Introducing Subject-Verb Agreement: Helping Verbs

Once you have revised subjects and verbs, it is time to begin teaching the agreement between the two. Begin by having your students give you a list of subjects.

Ensure that all of the following are included in the list:

  • He
  • She
  • I
  • They
  • We
  • Us
  • Any singular noun
  • Any plural noun or pronoun

Next, separate the subjects into three categories.  

First category: he, she, or any singular noun

Second category: I

Third category: they, we, us, or any plural noun or pronoun

Draw or display your categories into a table format for the class to see. Now add another column, titled “helping verbs .

In your “helping verbs” column, add in the following verbs:

First category: is

Second category: am

Third category: are

Once your table is complete, you will have a clear visual representation of various subjects and their accompanying helping verbs.  Practice a few repetitions of the combinations by allowing volunteers to choose subjects. Have the rest of the class say the helping verbs.

 

Introducing Subject-Verb Agreement: Verbs

Once you have gone over the concept of helping verbs, you can begin teaching other verbs in relation to subjects.

You will need to give your students an explanation of how singular subjects require an “s” with their verbs. Plural subjects do not need an “s” added to their verb.

Example:  

The girl (singular subject) plays (“s” added).

The girls (plural subject) play (no “s” added).

Next, bring up the pictures from your “revision of subjects” lesson. Place them somewhere the students can reach.

Now ask your students to look through old magazines and cut out pictures of verbs. They can look for funny actions or ones they think the subjects in the pictures would want to do.

When every student has at least one verb cut out, allow a few volunteers to choose a subject and make a sentence about them using a subject picture and their verb picture. Be sure to reinforce the correct use of the verb to ensure agreement.

When this lesson section is over, move to the recording section. Each student should paste their picture in their book and provide an accompanying subject. They can draw the subject to accompany their verb and then write the sentence using the correct form of the verb.

Using Songs To Teach Subject-Verb Agreement

It’s always fun to use songs in class. Since subject-verb agreement can get tricky to remember, it could help to make or use a song for this concept. Consider using a well-known song or one the students are currently singing. Piggyback off the music and add lyrics to help your students remember the rules of this concept.

In this example, the singer uses the popular children’s song “London Bridge is Burning Down” and uses the following lyrics:

Subject-verb agreement

Singular, no “s” London bridge is falling down.

Subject-verb agreement

Plural, add “s” London bridges are falling down

Subject-verb agreement

Singular, you use “is” London bridge is falling down!

Subject-verb agreement

Plural, use “are” London bridges are falling down!

This is an effective method to help students learn and remember grammatical rules. Just be aware that you will likely be stuck singing it to yourself for days, too!

 

Engage, Study, Activate

We cannot write about teaching grammatical concepts like subject-verb agreement without mentioning the ESL/TEFL model of “Engage, Study, and Activate.” Since teaching English as a second language needs to be straightforward and fun, many ESL schools employ this model when planning their lessons. We love it for use in a third-grade classroom.

The model follows three types of teaching and learning to get the maximum benefit from each class. 

The three types, as the name suggests, are:

  1. Engage
  2. Study
  3. Activate

Let’s look at each of the three in a little more detail.

1.    Engage

In this lesson section, do or say something to get the students interested in the subject matter. 

In the case of our subject-verb agreement lesson, you could stick up the pictures of the subjects and entice some descriptions of them from the class. Ask the students what each subject likes doing for fun, or what they do when they get into trouble, etc.

2.    Study

Now is the time for serious learning of the concept and rules. For subject-verb agreement, this is where you would show the table of verbs and helping verbs, have students give examples of sentences, and practice the combinations.

3.    Activate

The activate section of the lesson is where students have the opportunity to practice and consolidate what they have learned. Cutting out pictures, writing sentences independently, singing a song, and using what they have learned are all part of “activate.”

We love this model of teaching. It is impossible to use it in every lesson, but it is a great way to make grammar lessons fun and interactive.

Exceptions to the Subject Verb Rules

It is English and these do exist! We have a full article on exceptions to the subject verb rules here which makes things much clearer for you and your students. We have articles on that soon.

Conclusion

Teaching subject-verb agreement can be fun and interactive for your third-grade class. Get your students moving with activities and songs and allow them to use the concepts in their own sentences.

Use every chance you get to remind the class of the singular and plural rules, and be sure to put up a clear visual explanation of the rule for continued reinforcement.

Resources:

https://www.theclassroom.com/fun-way-teach-subject-verb-agreement-10025171.html

I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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