Monday, April 16, 2018

Oral Language: Verb "Rules"

Do you have children who add an extra syllable to words with the ed ending? For example, a child may say, I walked to the lunchroom. Many children will say walk ted. These are children who have generalized the rule” that a second syllable is voiced when the base word ends in a d or t sound. For example, past tense verbs like startstarted or endended, are pronounced as two distinct syllables. But, children may apply this rule to all past tense verbs. How can we help children express themselves in accepted English? Follow the scaffolded steps below to guide your children and share these steps with families, too, so they can offer support at home.

We suggest playing a game like “Mother May I?” to involve children in acting out verbs. Use the following as you say, “Your teacher says walk.”


Then add –ed to the words. Have children listen carefully as you say these words.

Then play again with verbs ending with the d or t sound:


Then have children act out the past tense. This will be fun and creative. It will help develop vocabulary for your English learners, too.

When you play the next day, have children clap the words. Guide them to discover that some of the words have two claps (syllables) while other words have one clap.

We suggest making a mystery from this – saying something like, “Wow, what a mystery! I wonder why some words have two claps. This is something we need to explore!” I usually hold a giant magnifying glass to heighten curiosity.

On a subsequent day, guide children to conclude that words which end in d or t have two syllables. Have a bit of a dance party to celebrate this discovery! When we add this element of fun, we can then gently correct children who do not follow the “rule” when speaking.

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC - 2.B.01 & 2.D.04
Head Start - VI.A. & IX.A.

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