My daughter, who is in kindergarten, sometimes says things like “persons” or “oxes.” Yet, as a credentialed teacher, this doesn’t surprise me. After all, the English language has many rules, and, plenty of exceptions to those rules. One of the first things kids learn is to add the letter ‘s’ to the end of a noun to make it plural. Yet, there are many nouns that don’t follow that rule. The best way to help kids remember these exceptions is to engage them in meaningful lessons. Here are a few fun activities to teach irregular plural nouns.
Irregular Plural Noun Posters
Give students a piece of paper folded into two equal parts. On one side have them write child and on the other write children. For each word, students can write a sentence. For example, The child ate a cupcake. For the plural noun sentence try, The children each had a slice of cake. Then, have your students illustrate each sentence. The next day, repeat this process with a different irregular plural noun. Once kids understand the process, this is a good activity for children to work on during reading groups during their independent work rotation.
The Irregular Plural Noun Story (for nouns that end in -f)
Make a big book that helps kids see how nouns change when they go from singular to plural. For instance, one book could be “Elf and his Friends Look for Leaves.” As you make this big book, it is important to write the singular nouns in one color and the plural irregular nouns in another so children can see the difference. Here is an example of a story using irregular plural nouns:
One day a little elf went on a walk through the forest. There he met two elves. The tallest elf asked “Do you want to go on a leaf walk with us?”
“Yes, I love leaves,” replied the elf. Yet, the elf was scared. He had heard a group of wolves lived in the forest. However, he wanted to look for leaves with his new friends. So, he went anyway. In the forest, the elves found red, yellow and orange leaves. Suddenly, they saw one lone wolf on a mountain. He trotted down the hill. As the wolf approached, the elves covered their eyes. “Excuse me,” the wolf began, “I seem to have lost the rest of my pack.”
“Oh, so you don’t want to eat us?” the youngest elf asked.
“No…… elves taste terrible,” the wolf laughed. So, the elves happily drew him a map and sent the wolf on his way. Then, they went back to their cabin to admire their leaves.
Once you are done with the story, ask students to point out what happens when the word elf goes from singular to plural. Repeat the process with the word leaf and wolf. Then, write the rule: for nouns that end in f, drop the -f and add -ves (except the word dwarf and roof).
Irregular Plural Noun Race
Give each child a two-column paper. On one column write singular nouns and on the other write plural nouns. Then, in the first column, write in 10 common singular nouns such as man, woman, child, ox, leaf, goose, person, mouse, foot and tooth. Then, give children rectangular slips of paper with various plural verbs written on each one. Some should have the correct answer but also include incorrect answers. Correct answers: men, women, children, oxen, leaves, geese, people, mice, feet and teeth. Incorrect answers: mans, womans, childs, oxes, leafs, gooses, persons, mouses, foots and tooths.
Finally, have children see how fast they can put the correct irregular plural noun next to the noun.
These activities will help enforce irregular plural nouns.
More from Melissa:
Using Children’s Books to Teach Descriptive Writing
Seven Ways to Improve Your Students’ Writing Skills
Four Mistakes Teachers Make: How to Avoid These Common Pitfalls