Listen to this song
Teaching Tips for Plurals, Plurals, Plurals, Plurals
Teach 5 ways to spell plural words using this song:
1. “Sometimes add _s and then you’re done.”
Most of the time, we add _s to form a plural.
Sometimes we add _s when a singular noun ends with a vowel plus o.
Examples: studio, studios; stereo, stereos; burrito, burritos.
2. “Sometimes you add _es and then you’re done.”
Add _es if the singular noun ends with s, ss, ch, sh, x or z.
Sometimes, we add _es when a singular noun ends with a consonant plus o.
Examples: hero, heroes; tomato, tomatoes; tornado, tornadoes.
3. “Change the names.” (Note that some names, like deer, stay the same.)
4. “Change the y to an i and add _es.”
Change the y to an i and add _es when a singular noun ends with a consonant plus y.
Examples: puppy, puppies; guppy, guppies.
Exception 1: When adding a suffix to a word ending in y, keep the y if the suffix begins with i.
Example: ing, in crying.
Exception 2: Just add _s to nouns ending in a vowel plus y.
Examples: turkey, turkeys; spray, sprays.
5. “Change the f to a v and add _es.”
Change the f to a v and add _es when a singular noun ends with f or fe.
Examples: calf, calves; half, halves; shelf, shelves.
Exceptions: roof, roofs; cliff, cliffs.
• Rewrite plural rules on a large poster or bulletin board.
• Create word cards containing plural rules, as well as singular and plural words. Sort words by playing “Plural Partners.” Begin by placing the five plural rules on a pocket chart. Tell children that they will place their plural words under the appropriate headings. Next, tell all children to put their heads in their hands and close their eyes. Then give children singular or plural word cards. When you are done handing out the cards, children should find their partners. You may choose to use word cards in several different ways, for several different purposes:
1) Use singular-plural cards containing pictures to help English Language Learners develop vocabulary, and to help struggling readers to feel successful.
2) Color-coded cards (in which singular-plural combinations match) will help your struggling readers to feel successful, while all children focus on print.
3) Non-color-coded cards will focus all attention on print.
• When playing “Plural Partners,” decide on a focus. At first, you may only want to study words that end in _s. Later, you may want to focus on two rules. Eventually, use cards containing words that follow all five of the rules. When children find their partners, they should…
1) Say or write sentences using their words.
2) State the rule associated with their words.
3) Place their words under the appropriate heading on a pocket chart.
• Use word cards from “Plural Partners” to create a matching center. Children should match singular words to their plural counterparts on a pocket chart or on the floor. Include rule cards in your center.
• Spelling notebooks are a great way to teach concepts to the class. Write in notebooks 1-3 days/week for about 20 minutes/day.
• This is an example of a typical spelling lesson. Please revise examples based on your students’ ideas.
Day 1: Write all five plural rules on the board. As a class, brainstorm words. Record students’ suggestions in the appropriate categories.
Day 2: Write on the white-board as children write in their spelling notebooks. Entries may look something like this:
Plurals: Just add _s.
1. cat – cats The cat has a toy. The cats have toys.
2. dog – dogs The dog is running. The dogs are running.
3. girl – girls The girl does a dance. The girls do a dance.
By choosing only 3-5 words/day, you can expand on the lesson by writing mini-definitions or sentences to accompany each word pair. In this example, I have focused on interesting grammar patterns. After singular nouns, we say “has,” “is” and “does.” After plural nouns, we say, “have,” “are,” and “do.”
Day 3: Today’s entry might say…
Plurals: Add _es
1. watch – watches 1) Watches tell time. 2) She watches TV.
2. match – matches 1) Don’t play with matches. 2) His tie matches his shirt.
3. wish – wishes 1) You get three wishes. 2) She wishes for world peace.
In this example, the class may discuss multiple-meaning words. For each of these words, meaning number one contains a plural noun. Meaning number two is not a plural; the word is now used as a verb.
Day 4 may say…
Change the names.
1. goose – geese
2. foot – feet
3. child – children
4. man – men
5. woman – women
On this day, the class used more examples instead of adding definitions or sentences.
Day 5 might say…
Change the y to an i and add _es.
1. bunny – bunnies: Bunnies are cute little animals that hop.
2. baby – babies: Babies are really young people.
3. berry – berries: Berries grow on bushes.
On this day, the class focused on mini-definitions.
Change the f to a v and add _es.
1. calf – calves: Calves are baby cows.
2. half – halves: Two halves make a whole.
3. shelf – shelves: Put books on shelves.
Day 7: Give children time to read their spelling notebooks with partners.
Read reproducible phonics books containing plural endings. Circle the endings and discuss the associated rules.
• Create large word cards containing plurals: Fold an 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of paper in half like a hamburger. At the top, write a word in blue, for example, dogs. On the bottom, write “dog” in blue, and write the “s” in red. (Research suggests that the brain responds well when we highlight important information in red.) On the back of the card, write, “Just add s.” Now, show the top of the card to the class. Let them think for 5 seconds. Next, show them the bottom of the card. Give them five more seconds to think. Move the card through the air three times as the class reads, “Dogs, dogs, dogs.” By moving the card three times, children who don’t “get it” the first time will get it the second and third time. Finally, ask the children to think (for five seconds) about the rule for this word. A child might say, “Just add s.” Allow the class to confirm the answer by reading the back of the card together. Once you have practiced these cards together, put them in a “word card” center.
• You may want to add other information to your word cards. For dogs, the back of the card may read,
Plural rule: Just add s.
Dogs: (noun): lovable animals with four legs and bad breath.
• Decorate a shoe box entitled “Plurals.” Cut a hole in the top. As children read, encourage them to find new plural words. They may write these on notecards and put them in the box. Periodically, read the students’ cards, and add these to your plural poster.