All posts by Shari

Teaching Grammar with the Dictionary


The dictionary is our friend. With the popularity of typing instead of writing, spell-checkers, and gulp, dare I approach, texting, one of our oldest and most reliable friends seems to have fallen by the wayside; or at least been left to the side of the road. The dictionary!

 Now even I’m not vouchsafing the monstrously heavy old Unabridged I used to have sitting on the corner of my desk like a ponderous old toad, I’m still talking computer dictionaries. Not sure how a word is spelled? Get as close as possible, highlight that puppy (if your spellchecker hasn’t already attempted to give you alternatives) and look it up!

 Another challenge—and opportunity—that presents itself with dictionary use is expansion of your vocabulary. It’s such a temptation when writing along and you’re reminded by your spellchecker that a word you’ve used is spelled incorrectly to just replace that word with a simpler, more prosaic word. Fight the temptation! Stretch your word usage and your writing by exploring new meanings and new words with the use of the dictionary! Synonyms are also a lovely alternative at these spelling junctures. Writing should be a fluid exercise. While there is often the right word, the appropriate word, often as not there can be an alternative that may be even better, an alternate that can move your prose in another direction, a substitution that can spark a new avenue. Play with words when writing and let them work for you.

 Teachers of English and grammar, spelling opens up all sorts of possibilities. Have fun with words and encourage your students to stretch their creativity with spelling. See our fun and interactive Spelling/Vocabulary Programs to get your students excited about spelling. Go to for all the details.

Get Into Emergencies with Grammar Punk

Timely Emergencies

Have you seen those billboard signs bragging about the amount of time you’ll have to wait before being seen by a doctor at an emergency room? Is it me or is that an… interesting concept?

Emergency rooms are, by definition, the place you go to when you’ve had an… emergency, right? As in I’m heading to the nearest place where someone can stop the bleeding. I don’t seriously think I’m going to interrupt my heart attack to say, “oh no, don’t go to that ER. They’re wait time is 16 minutes while that other place is saying I’ll only have to wait 9 minutes. That’s where I’m going.”

Weird, right? Or maybe it really is me. What do you think?

Go to to find more ways to make grammar fun.

Spell it With Grammar Punk

Like writing itself, the art of spelling has also taken serious hits in the past few decades. It’s easy enough to blame PC spell-checkers and they certainly deserve much of the blame, but not all of it.

 Good spelling takes effort. Work. Discipline. Finesse. It is also a necessary skill that should not be short-changed.

 Not that I’m dissing spell-checkers; I’m not. Entirely. They absolutely have their place, especially for us writers whose fingers can move faster than our brains, more concerned with the flow than the individual words. However, spell-checkers have their limitations. Big time. Homonyms spring to mind. A word might very well be spelled correctly and be entirely the wrong word. Another common oops with spell-checkers is commonly confused words such as affect or effect, accept, except, you’re, your, and on and on.

 Strong, effective, in-charge writers are good spellers.

 At least we work at it.

 Spelling and writing should go hand in hand. Well, duh, you say? Not so much. Let’s face it, spelling, like that other bugaboo of the writing world, grammar, has obtained a bad reputation. Spelling, schmelling. Getting students interested in spelling, not matter what age group, has never been more challenging; creativity is key.

 Reason number 97 why the Grammar Punk™ dice were created. By breaking words into their most basic elements—letters into words—and by requiring students to use specific letters to form words, students therefore pay more attention to the words they create.

 We’ll be looking at some ways to make this important skill approachable, achievable, and even, gulp, fun. We’d love to hear from the great teachers out there who might have their own cool ideas about spelling.

Create Fun Grammar Lessons with Flipping

I’ve been reading about some instructors “flipping” their classrooms. To be more precise, it’s the subject matter they’re flipping. Such as booting lengthy (and let’s face it, numbingly boring grammatical explanations) in favor of face-to-face instruction based on activities and even games. In other words, fun activities to teach grammar.

Hm, sounded familiar. Who knew we were so cutting edge? Well, we did.

Grammar is language, communication, writing, creativity. Yup, you heard right, grammar is creative—at least it should be. Grammar is also rules but that doesn’t mean a lengthy discourse is necessary to relay those rules. Keep it short, keep it pithy, keep it relevant. Keep it Grammar Punk. We’ve cut the rules down to the basics for you. Our amazing Grammar Punk Primer (included with the Grammar Punk Programs—along with a bunch of other stellar materials) put those rules where they belong—in your student’s hands. One rule at a time, one roll of the dice at a time, one sentence at a time. Flipping (out) your classroom—and your students has never been so easy. Or so much fun. Swim in it…

Go to to find out more.

Make Grammar Fun with Literacy

Literacy Grammar Punk Style

Literacy: The ability to read and write to a competent level.

In this age of standardization and number 2 pencil assessment, it is easy for creativity and expressionism in student writing to be lost. Even devalued. Reading clearly dominates most curricula and writing is often used merely to enhance reading or merely reflect what has been read. As Thomas Newkirk says in his Holding Onto Good Ideas in A Time of Bad Ones: Writing is not easily assessed therefore it is not valued. The irony
here is while Americans are less frequently engaging in reading, they are required to write more in the workplace.

Which means the skill, the creativity, the fun of writing is being left behind. And left out. And writing skills are suffering. Worse, the act of writing is often regarded as a chore instead of an invaluable and essential tool. Just ask college acceptance boards and potential employers.

Students have to be involved in the process, not just lectured to; learning that is hands-on and interactive will not only keep their attention it will stay with them, becoming part of their process. From brain to hand to pencil to paper.

Grammar Punk has tackled these complex and myriad problems head on in a deceptively simple way: we have made the process fun—both for the teacher as well as the students. Even better, Grammar Punk has made the process easy-to-use and easy-to learn. How? By students learning in the context of THEIR OWN WRITING.

What this means is that no matter what they are learning, from the most mundane rules of parts and speech and punctuation symbols, they will be WRITING. Their own writing. Using their own creativity. Making the process their own. Literacy, Grammar Punk Style

Create Fun Grammar Lessons with Punctuation

This is a particularly effective rule to add to your writing skills. When you want to use a word parenthetically without the formalization—or necessarily the emphasis of using actual parentheses this rule is the ticket. It is also helpful when you wish to be ironic or humorous or even mysterious.

Use quotation marks to emphasize unique words, distinguish words used in a unique way, or to indicate that a word is unfamiliar.

Grammar Punk Example: P O 2 Adv | Jed wasn’t sure what a “portico” was, but he knew he didn’t want one on his new porch.

Teachers of English, writing and grammar discuss this rule with your students. Encourage them to think up interesting parenthetical type words to use with this rule. Then write about it—using this particular quotation mark rule. Then go to to find out how to make grammar fun.


Make Grammar Fun with Character Cards

Character Cards Scenario Suggestions

The people in a fictional text are known as characters. Characters are usually presented through their actions, speech and thoughts as well as by description. And they are so much more than that. Characters are the story. Think about it: no matter how compelling the theme or premise of a story, it’s the characters that keep you reading. What happens to them, what will they do next, how do they get out of this one? Seriously, developing strong characterization skills will enable you to write any story in any genre.

Realistic, vivid, insightful, complex, interesting characters are easier to develop than you might think. It’s all about paying attention to the details and really getting to know your characters. This means knowing all the big stuff as well as the small stuff. The more real you make your characters the more your readers will identify with them and care about them. The more real they will become.

Select a Livelihoods card.

  1. Select a What’s In A Name card.
  2. Give the character a name, physical characteristics, history, etc.
  3. Select a Quirks card.
  4. Continue developing the character by adding one (or more) of the characteristics listed on the card.


Make Grammar Fun With a Word With You



 Effrontery: behavior or an attitude that is so bold or arrogant as to be insulting

 Late 17th cent.: from French effronterie, based on late Latin effrons, effront- ‘shameless, barefaced,’ from ex- ‘out’ + frons ‘forehead

This is one of those words that is just not used enough. Which is a shame since it’s been around so long. And it has forehead in it! The idea of effrontery is certainly with us, just read the tabloids in the supermarket line sometime.

Teachers, this is a great word to explore with your students. Challenge them to think of examples of effrontery. It shouldn’t be hard. Then get them writing about it.

Grammar Punk Sentence: D E 3 effrontery

Appalled at the sheer effrontery of the number of zombies, Jessica vowed to never attend another costume party in this lifetime.

Give it a try. Write a Grammar Punk sentence using at least 3 words with the letters D and E and the word effrontery.

Teaching Grammar with Dormice

The Decidedly Unmouselike Dormouse
The Dormouse, another slightly less ubiquitous character in the Tale of Alice and her Wonderland is another character I find fascinating—if not as colorful as the others. He spent much of his time in the story sleeping between the March Hare and The Hatter who used him as a cushion. To which he barely pays any mind at all.
The Dormouse is always falling asleep during the scene, waking up every so often, for example to say: `You might just as well say,’ added the Dormouse, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, `that “I breathe when I sleep” is the same thing as “I sleep when I breathe”!’ Pretty deep for a mouse.
All in all he’s not a terrible notable character…except that he is. As with the majority of characters in this truly timeless tome, the Dormouse has come to convey a creature who is sleepy and cranky and none too pleased to deal with fools. Not bad for a guy who’s as small as a minute.
Dormice are small for rodents, with a body length of between 6 and 19 cm (2.4 and 7.5 in), and weighing between 15 and 200 g (0.53 and 7.1 oz). They are generally mouse-like in appearance, but with furred, rather than scaly tails. Most species are nocturnal. Dormice have an excellent sense of hearing, and signal each other with a variety of vocalizations.
I won’t go into too much detail about the fact that the Romans found the small and adorable—if sleepy—dormouse a tasty snack. Yikes. And yuck. And stop that!
Teachers of English, grammar, and writing, challenge your students to explore this enigmatic little character. There is apparently more to dormice than meets the eye.
Go to to find more ideas to make teaching grammar fun.