It is imperative that our students in Kindergarten understand that words have different forms. My ESL kids especially need to be explicitly taught that words can change, depending upon the context. The easiest way I have found to begin teaching students this concept is by teaching plurals. Plural nouns are pretty easy for the students to grasp because they aren't typically irregular; however, the irregular ones are fun and informative to push some of our students! I like to teach regular plural nouns and then see if my class may be ready for the extra push towards irregular ones.
In any case, teaching this main lesson on regular plural nouns really helps students expand their writing and even think through their talking! This lesson is one I think is necessary for our students in Kindergarten to become better speakers and writers!
I love teaching students how to make one noun into many nouns; I do this by telling them about magic /s/. This lesson is fun because, of course, anything "magic" is fun. Also, this lesson really strengthens students' writing because it helps them choose the correct words to use!
"We have been learning about nouns. A noun is a person, place, thing or idea. What is a noun?"
(Students will say, "A noun is a person, place, thing or idea.")
---It is important that students repeat what I say because they learn best by teaching themselves!
"Yes... but... what if I have three people, two places, nine things or five ideas?" (Wait time.) *This question is a higher order thinking question that will really leave them hanging!
"I need to learn how to change nouns into words that mean more than one. A word that means more than one is called a plural. Say it with me, please. A word that means more than one is called a plural. Can you say that yourselves, please?"
(Students will say, "A word that means more than one is called a plural.")
"Good! Today, we are going to learn how to make our nouns plural. There is one little trick you need to know. Are you ready for it? (Wait time.) The trick to making a noun plural is to add magic /s/. Can you make the sound yourselves?"
(Students will say, "/s/.")
"Yes. That seems like a pretty simple trick, doesn't it? That's because it is! I am going to show you a video that explains how to add s to nouns to make them plural. I want you to pay attention and answer the questions that are asked as we go along. Remember: our focus is to turn one into many by making it plural!"
This video might seem simple, but it's easy to understand and engaging for the students (and I don't have to reinvent the wheel)!
I finish up this introductory video by having a summarizing conversation that is short, sweet and to the point. I like to do this to reinforce the skill and to close the new learning with my students; this step is imperative when learning new information!
"Now that we have watched someone else do it, let's change some words to plurals with magic /s/ ourselves. I will give you a word and I want you to change it into a plural, using magic /s/. Don't forget to answer in a complete sentence! Hmmm... let's start with a familiar example- cup. What if I have more than one cup? I would say, "I have cups" (emphasizing the /s/ on the end).
Now, let's do another one. What if I have more that one orange?" (Wait time.)
(Students will say, "I have oranges.")
"What if I have more than one swing?"
(Students will say, I have swings.")
"Great job, everyone! Turn to a partner now and say 'If I add magic /s/ to the end of a noun, it makes it more than one.' Go!"
(Students will say, "If I add magic /s/ to the end of a noun, it makes it more than one.")
"Great! We will continue to learn about adding magic /s/ to the end of nouns and we will continue to make words into plurals! You guys did a great job today! Give yourself a pat on the back! Now that you have the hang of listening for plurals, please listen as I read you one of my favorite stories about plurals! It is called, If You Were a Plural Word. Pay attention and, if you hear a plural word, give me a thumbs up!"
---I have students listen for the plurals and give me a thumbs up because it, 1) sets the purpose for their listening, and 2) keeps them engaged.
If students are ready to go to the next step with this lesson and add -s and -es to words, this video is one that students love. It may be old, but it is fun and cute!
I do mini lessons throughout the year making nouns into plural nouns.
I love using this BrainPop video during my second or third review of this lesson!
There are so many different things we can do to expand on this main activity!
I like to work on using plurals in writing, once they have this down through talking.
Throughout the year, I change many different words into plurals.
I even talk about other, irregular rules for plurals. I have attached a list that I use!
Later in the year, I like to play a game with turning one into many, using all types of words!
Finally, here is another video that I like to use when I am summarizing or expanding upon plural nouns and magic /s/. This lesson reviews nouns and then goes into plurals vs. singular nouns while also expanding to cover es, ies and irregular types of nouns.
I really begin to assess this skill during conversation. After this lesson, I make sure to be intentional and correct students when they are speaking if they aren't using plural words correctly. This is one skill that I truly feel can be assessed through speaking, THEN through writing.
Here is how I typically assess plural nouns in my classroom:
- Teach the initial lesson
- Assess students' use of plurals when speaking
- Re-teach initial lesson and expand the idea
- Assess students' use of plurals when speaking and writing
- Expand on plural nouns and extend conversations
- Assess students' use of plural nouns when speaking and writing as well as reading some irregular plural nouns (especially for my beyond level kids)
Attached, you can see some evidence of students who have shown a good grasp of plural nouns, through speaking and then writing, at different points throughout the year! These examples are named to show you what I could notice from each!