5 fun things to do with grammar on lockdown – Martha O’Dell

grammar in lockdown

While the lockdown could potentially be a perfect time to brush up on grammar, worksheets can be rather dry and uninspiring. Try these activities with lower KS3 to get them engaging with grammar.

1. Adjective treasure hunt

Pupils conduct a treasure hunt where they have to collect items from around the house which embody particular adjectives. E.g. find something bendy, find something conductible, find something squishy etc. After gathering the items, pupils take a picture and email it to their teacher. 

2. Comparative and superlative Family Olympics

This activity helps pupils acquire a real comprehension of comparative and superlative adjectives and it’s something in which the whole family can partake. Pupils have to find out who in their family ‘wins’ in a variety of household contests and write correct sentences with the results.

Categories could include:

  • Who can throw a paper aeroplane the furthest
  • Who has a more difficult day (interview mum and dad)
  • Who can say the alphabet backwards in the fastest time
  • Who can do the most press-ups in 1 minute
  • Who has the longest hair
  • Who can do the best cartwheel

Example sentence from pupils:

Jamie could throw his paper aeroplane the furthest. He threw his 3.5 m.

3. Tense poetry

In order to sensitise pupils to tense, have them write a poem in which they describe what they did before lockdown, what they are doing now and what they will do when this is all over.

First, provide a list of various tenses and aspects you would like students to include.


  • past simple – I went to school
  • Past progressive – I was going to school
  • Past perfect  – I had been to school
  • Present simple – I go to school
  • Present progressive – I am going to school
  • Will for future – I will go back to school
  • Be going to – I am going to go back to school

Students should then write as many sentences as they can in each of the aspects. They could write them from the perspectives of different members of their family.  Finally, students should arrange their sentences into a poem in any way they wish.

4. Noun switch

Give pupils an extract (it can be from a studied text or something completely different) with some of the nouns removed and replaced with something else (I’ve used fruit)

Before I was two years old, a banana happened which I have never forgotten. It was early in the cherry; there had been a little peach in the raspberry, and a light pineapple still hung over the plantations and apples. I and the other melons were feeding in the lower part of the strawberry when we heard, quite in the nectarine, what sounded like the cry of satsumas.

(Taken from Black Beauty by Anna Sewell)

Answers: circumstance, spring, frost, night, mist, meadows, colts, field, distance, dogs.

Students have to guess what the original nouns were and the winner is the person who gets the most correct. You could also give a prize for the funniest or most original version. This activity deepens students’ understanding of what a noun is and how it behaves in a clause.

5. Write your own rant

Students write their own rant about the most annoying things about being in lockdown (I sometimes show them a clip of Room 101 so they get the idea). Give students a list of grammatical features that they need to include e.g.:

  • A rhetorical question
  • A superlative adjective
  • A cleft sentence (a sentence split into two using the verb to be for emphasis e.g. what really drives me crazy is my sister’s toys!)

You can find more information on cleft sentences here

Pupils can either send their ‘script’ or record their rant on their smartphones and send the clip. Again, you could award a winner for the most passionately performed or persuasive rant.

These types of ‘stand-alone’ grammar activities may be useful in reacquainting KS3 pupils who, having received a very heavy diet of grammar at KS2, may just know more than teachers would expect. Keeping it fun and ‘low stakes’ (i.e. separate to any assessment or formal scheme of work) will help pupils consolidate what they have already learned while reengaging them with the topic. This will hopefully instil a renewed interest in grammar, ready for their return to school.

Read Martha O’Dell’s Top Tips to Support Remote Learning here And her suggestions for Engaging Pupils Remotely here

You can find further information on current support for remote learning on the Oxford University Press website