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How to Teach Your Child to Use Plurals

by Laura Roberts

For awhile, a dimpled face can get away with the lisped, “I see two twee, Mommy.” As much as you hate for your sweetheart to grow up and stop using those cute expressions, you also want her to succeed in the world around her. Help her accelerate her language development with an understanding of when to use a plural noun. Base the length of time you dedicate to practice on her age and attention span with a maximum of 10 or 20 minutes a day for a child under five. By staying positive in your tone and demeanor, you can help her form a positive approach to learning rather than being frustrated with her own mistakes.

Picture Flashcards

Make picture flashcards to represent single and plural objects in a sentence. Involve your child in finding and cutting pictures of objects from magazines. Assist him in gluing the pictures onto index cards. Place the finished flashcards in a pile on the table.

Use the flashcards to practice forming sentences with singular and plural nouns with your child. Model the correct ending for each flashcard he picks. For example, if he picks up the flashcard with one dog, have him say, “I have a dog.” If he picks out a card with two dogs, have him practice a sentence such as “I have dogs.”

Review the difference between singular and plural nouns with a flashcard matching game. Lay the flashcards out randomly on the table. Have him find matches, saying the words aloud. For example, he may say "tree" and "trees" as he picks up those cards.

Songs

Use traditional nursery rhymes and songs to sneak in more practice with plurals. Sing plural-rich songs like “One Elephant Came out to Play” and “The Ants go Marching." Point out the difference between "one elephant" or "one ant" and multiple elephants or ants.

Reinforce the songs “Hot Cross Buns” or “Sing a Song of Sixpence” with a picture of the plural items in the songs. Cut out circles for the buns and birds for "Sixpence" from colored construction paper. Have your child glue them onto craft paper and decorate them while you sing the songs.

Act out “Old McDonald," personalizing it to your child. Line up her collection of stuffed animals. Change the song to include her name and the names of her animal friends.

Books

Take an adventure trip to the library or browse your own collection. Pick out picture books with repetitive plural nouns on each page. Choose from options like “Millions of Cats,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” “Spiders, Spiders Everywhere” or “Bears on Wheels.”

Provide your child with a flood of plural nouns found in the books. This will help your child subconsciously learn to restructure her vocabulary. Ask him questions about what is on each page after you have read it. Prompt him to repeat the plural noun.

Practice the plural noun vocabulary after reading the books. Ask your child to tell you about his favorite part of the story. Have him make a picture with one of the plural nouns from the book.

Items you will need
  • Index cards
  • magazines
  • child-safety scissors
  • glue
  • construction paper
  • craft paper
  • stuffed animals
  • books

Warning

  • Always monitor your child's use with safety scissors.

Resources

About the Author

As a literature and grammar teacher, Laura Roberts began editing in 2002, gradually expanding her nonfiction writing to include new curriculum units. In 2008, Roberts began publishing her “Ask the Savvy Bride” column connected with her e-commerce wedding store. She holds a bachelor's in English education from Robert Morris University.

Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images