Thursday, January 24, 2013

Modifier Mad Libs (Printable Activity for Teachers or Grammar Nerds)

I've never done this before - mainly because I'm not that creative so I get most of my ideas from other people - but I had a fun idea for teaching/practicing grammar that actually worked out pretty well (which doesn't always happen) and produced a fun (and, I think, effective) activity in my class today; so, I thought I'd share it here...

I realize I've already lost more than half of you by using the words fun and grammar in the same sentence; but for those of you still sticking around (I'm assuming you are a teacher, home-schooler, or one of the rare breeds of grammar lovers in the world), I present to you: Modifier Mad Libs.*

Here's the basic gist:  

For part one, I provided students with a basic story in traditional Mad Lib form.  Then, in pairs, they worked to complete it by having one student blindly provide specific types of modifiers/modifier phrases while the other filled them in to the story. The finished product was - as I suspected it would be - outlandish and funny, and the students loved sharing them with the class.

Crazy, right?

For part two, I distributed index cards to each pair of students and asked them to write a simple sentence (Subject + Verb + Direct Object).  Then, I provided space on the hand-out for them to write different modifiers and modifier phrases that could potentially be added to their sentence to give details.  When everyone was finished, I collected the index cards and re-distributed the simple sentences.  The students' challenge was to write a new sentence combining the sentence they were given and the modifier/phrases they had written.  This was mainly designed to help them practice placing modifiers correctly in a sentence.

If you think you might like to try this with your class, here is the Google Docs link to the Word version of the hand-out I created with instructions and space for students to write.  Feel free to save, print, or modify (haha, I crack myself up) it. :)

A few other things...

- I used this as part of a "Grammar Crash Course" I'm doing with my ninth graders after a review of modifiers.  The activity provided here is geared towards that age-group (roughly) and unit of study; however, it could easily be adapted for any grade level.  (I've heard of lots of people using Mad Libs to teach parts-of-speech specifically.)

- You may want to give your students a warning that all material should be "classroom appropriate."  I trust my students, but sometimes 9th graders are unpredictable. :) Better to be safe than sorry - especially since you won't necessarily read everything before they share it with the class.

- Sorry if this is totally lame.

*Obviously, I'm not the first teacher ever to think of using Mad Libs in the grammar classroom.  I'm just calling this my own because I created the worksheet and thought up the instructions and process myself.  FYI.


  1. I always used Mad Libs in my classrooms to reinforce the parts of speech. It was actually very effective, even in stretching my first graders to the limit. They loved it!
    Really, not lame at all!

  2. Middle schoolers always turn their mad libs into fart stories. Every. Single. Time.

  3. I love this idea! I teach eighth grade, and we have just been working on all the different types of modifying phrases. This will be a perfect review for them. Thanks so much for sharing!


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