You may very well be squinting your eyes, looking at the sky as you try to answer the loaded question “what is a verb and noun mum?” Oh dear, your 5-year-old has posed a beginners question after hearing talk at the office (school) today. When these mysterious words were bandied around by his teacher, his wandering mind was concerned with more pressing issues. “I hope my spider is still under the trampoline when I get home, I will need to find suitable sticks for prodding him with. I am going to eat my cake before fruit at recess. I might give Jimmy a Pokemon card today if he is nice to me” etc. Now he’s looking to you for the answer, here is a parental refresher.
Noun – a part of speech that names a person, place, thing or idea. A naming word.
Verb – the part of speech that conveys an action, occurrence or state of being. A doing word.
Adjective – a word that modifies, quantifies or describes a noun. A describing word.
Example Sentence: A beautiful woman walked the quiet streets of Paris. Can you pick the verb, nouns and adjectives? The colour coding might help.
Nouns – start by asking your future novelist a few questions.
- Do you know what a noun is?
- Do you know what a person is?
- Do you know what a place is?
- Do you know what a thing is?
Back it up sister, I am asking YOU what a noun/verb/adjective is, ah ha yes child that is right. Now if your kid knows the answer to 2,3 and 4 you are heading down the right track. If not, then firstly learn a little about these concepts before venturing into the grammar world.
Some basics to try at home with young children are
- Books – reading to them and asking if there was a “person, place or thing” in the sentence.
- Poke a Noun – this is fun if you are having all the family over for dinner, encourage them to give Dad a good poke up the … pets and electrical appliances are also in danger here.
Verbs – question time first
- Do you know what a verb is?
- Do you know what an action is?
- Do you know what a state of being is?
- Name something you do?
- Name something you are?
I would hazard a guess many small children know the last two, some are close but no cigar at explaining number 2. As for question 3, I suspect only if mum and dad have philosophical conversations as they sip red wine of an evening meal. However, if kids are also stumped by 4 and 5 you need to discuss ‘doing’ things versus ‘being’ things.
An activity to try at home that doesn’t stretch the imagination
- Simon Says – we all know this one, “Simon says jump” – it’s an action right. Try out a few non-verbs “Simon says table” – whoops it’s a noun, your kid should be standing still now. You get the jist.
- Do you know what an adjective is?
- Do you know what it means to describe something?
As we found out above, most cannot answer the first question, however hopefully kids are on track with describing something. Framing this issue correctly might be the key, the word ‘describe’ can be changed to ‘tell me about.’
- Pictures – cut from magazines/view on a screen/look in books. Get your child to tell you about i.e. describe what that person does for a living, looks like, how old they are. You are hoping for answers that include ‘describing’ words such as tall, long hair, happy, etc.
There are a mountain of activities online, but if you want to start slow and steady just stick with the basics and don’t stray too far from your daily routine.