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How to practise 'there is/are' with young learners, part 2

So as some of you might know, I've been substitute teaching in grades 1-3 for the last month or so. I don't know whether to consider it a gift or a curse, but whenever I spend some time in their classroom, I leave with a head full of new material ideas. If you have ever read any of my posts, you know, that once I get an idea it's pretty much impossible for me not to create the material.

The materials I created this time round are sort of add-on activities to another material which I created years ago, namely my There is/are cards with beautiful hand-drawn illustrations made by my dear friend Barney Potts.

Two weeks ago, I had a lesson with some of the grades 1-3 children and we were using these. Amazingly, 8 years on, they are not ruined and are still very much usable, with the exception of some of the word cards which I had to remake. I noticed that for some of the children it was too difficult to create the sentences straight away and they need more help differentiating when to use 'there's' and when to use 'there are'. Some other kids were fine making the sentences, but were confused when to use the indefinite article and when not to use it. I needed something that would let those children practise the smaller steps before moving on to creating the sentences. So once the lesson was over, there was no other way but to make the materials 😅 And this is how three new activities got created.

The first activity uses the same pictures and has three different sentences next to each picture. The task is obviously to choose the right sentence. The other two sentences are either grammatically correct but do not match the picture, or have some grammar mistakes in them. I bought those tiny green pegs in Teddy, but I'm sure you'll find something similar in any arts&crafts or stationary shops. I printed all the cards on sticker paper and stack them onto colour paper to make them not see-through and a bit sturdier. Also, it makes them look nicer on the back 😊 The error control was done by sticking tiny stickers on the back of each card, behind the correct sentence. You can see the dots in the picture above.

The second activity also uses the same pictures, but this time round all that kids need to do is pick whether it should be 'there's' or 'there are'. The right answer is on the back of each card. To make the cards look like this, simply print them double sided. I printed mine on card to make them sturdier and not see-through. This material is perfect for pair work where one child decides on the right option and the other checks if they are right.

The last activity uses the same sentences, but without the pictures, so to identify the right answer kids have to recognise the singular or plural form of the noun without seeing it in the picture. I made these cards like the first ones - sticker paper and small sticker to mark the right answer on the back of each card.

All three activities will work perfectly on their own, but in my opinion will work even better with the original material as the next step in perfecting the knowledge of 'there is' and 'there are'.

The stronger students, who were already perfectly capable of creating the sentences with the original material, got to move on to creating their own sentences. The activity proved to be quite challenging for them so starting next week they are going to create sentences with the help of the following sentence patterns:

It took some research for me to decide which grammar symbol to use for 'there' in these sentences. I finally decided on the pronoun symbol following this internet tip:

The construct comes from the French term "il y a", literally translated as "that there has" but thought of by native French speakers as identical to "there is" (except conjugated using "avoir" instead of "etre"). As this shows, "there" basically replaces "il y" ("that there") from the French and so takes the place of the pronoun.

The kids will produce their own sentences based on the books I bought some time ago, which I think are absolutely perfect for practising describing pictures:

Each page is filled to the brim with object, people, animals, and places to describe. Each student will get to pick one page and create sentences about it. From there, I expect, we are going to progress very naturally to creating sentences describing what the people and the animals are doing, thus introducing the gerund symbol into the game. I'm think of going out to the park with them to practise describing what they see or asking them to record short videos of them walking around town and narrating what they see as the next step.

So you decide, am I blessed or cursed? I spend my evening and weekends creating my materials so this leads me to believe I'm cursed 🤣 but then again ... I love creating my materials and love sharing them with you so I guess I'm blessed that they come to me with such ease 🥹 What do you think? Let me know in the comments below if you'd like.

And if you like the materials head on to MonteShop and get them for your students 😁

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