Noun games in the classroom help students learn and have fun while doing it. Whether your students are focusing on people, places and things, or they’re learning the difference between abstract and concrete nouns, these noun games are appropriate for any grade level. Keep reading for engaging ideas about teaching nouns in the classroom.
Whole Class Noun Games
Before playing these grammar games, review the definition of a noun and the different kinds of nouns. If nouns are still a new concept, start with common nouns. If your class is more advanced, you could classify further by proper and common nouns. The most advanced students could categorize the nouns by countable and uncountable, concrete and abstract, and collective.
With this game the teacher may want to help students start thinking about nouns of the world before playing. The game could cover any kind of noun, so it should not be difficult once they get going.
- The class stands in a circle and the teacher holds an inflatable globe.
- The teacher tosses the globe to a student who has five seconds to think of a noun related to world categories such as animals, countries, weather, or geography.
- When the student responds correctly, they toss the ball to another student.
- It would be good to allow a "do-over" for those students who are struggling.
Another version of Globe Trotter uses a stuffed animal and nouns related to things at a zoo or animals. You could also use a sports ball and have nouns from any sport, including where it is played, the spectators, or team names.
Nouns Around the World
Try out a game that quizzes students on the type of noun they’re looking at. With this noun game the teacher has a pile of alphabet flashcards and another set of cards with the words: "person", "place", "thing", and "idea" on them.
- Two students stand to compete.
- The teacher shows them one card from each stack, reads the letter, and reads the type of noun.
- The student who answers first and correctly stands behind the other student's desk.
- The winner competes with the next student and the game continues.
Feel free to modify based on your class’s skill level and review needs. A simpler version would just have alphabet flashcards and the students think of any noun that starts with that letter.
Plural Hot Potato
There are two ways to play this fun team game.
- Students sit or stand in a standard hot potato circle.
- Start some music or sing a simple song.
- Have them pass a ball (the “potato”) around the circle.
- When the music stops, the teacher calls out a noun.
- The student holding the ball then says and/or spells the plural version of the noun.
- Line students up in two lines facing each other.
- Give each pair of students facing each other a ball or something else to toss back and forth.
- One line is the “singular” line. These students name a singular noun when they have the ball.
- When they pass it, their partner in the “plural” line names the plural version of that noun.
- Have the pairs switch lines, or mix up partners periodically, so everyone gets a chance to think of both singular and plural nouns.
Traveling with Nouns
This noun game starts with the teacher picking a destination.
- Students sit in a circle or stay at their desks, depending on the layout of the room.
- One student starts by naming the noun for something that he needs on his trip, like: "I'm going on a trip and I am taking _____." The noun must start with an "a."
- The next student will repeat the sentence, repeat the first student's noun, and add a noun that starts with a "b."
- This could get quite long, so you may want to split the class into two groups who play separate games.
Another version of the Traveling With Nouns game has the student say a noun that starts with the last letter of the noun from the previous student and not have them repeat each one. This version would probably be easier for a large group. You could also leave out the opening sentence and just have a simple noun game where you make a noun chain.
Team and Individual Noun Games
Sometimes you may want to play noun games that involve individual students or teams. These games are great for small group sessions or independent study.
I Spy Nouns
This individual noun game is easy to play in any location.
- Have each student take out a sheet of paper.
- Tell them to write down every noun they see in the classroom.
- Give one point for common nouns, two points for plural nouns, and three points for collective nouns.
- If a student finds a noun that no one else writes down, they get five points for that noun.
List the Noun
Turn a simple list of nouns into an individual game.
- Set a time limit of one or two minutes.
- Write a letter on the board and have each student write as many nouns as they can think of within the time frame.
- Call on some students to read their lists so the whole class can listen and make sure they have listed nouns.
- More advanced groups can focus on certain types of nouns.
Split the class into teams of 3-4 students each. One student will be the recorder, but they will all brainstorm the answer.
- Announce one sport at the beginning of each round – “Basketball,” for example – and each team writes down every noun they can think of in one minute.
- At the end of one minute, see which team has the most nouns.
- Give extra points for collective nouns (team, squad, crowd).
You can vary this game by choosing other activities besides sports, or for asking for different parts of speech associated with the activity.
Team List Game
A good team game involves each type of noun.
- Make a chart for each group with four columns: "person", "place", "thing", and "idea."
- Give students a certain amount of time; then each group shares with the whole class.
- Reward the team with the longest overall list or reward the team with the longest list for each type of noun. Rewards can be free time, being first in line, treats, stickers, or anything else you can think of.
Learning Grammar Through Games
Students who are having fun are students who enjoy learning. Reinforcing their knowledge of nouns is just one benefit to bringing grammar games like noun activities into the classroom. For more noun practice and grammar fun, check out this list of grammar games that cover parts of speech, parts of a sentence, and punctuation.