Using the Read-Aloud Novel to Reinforce Grammar

So today, we continued reading The Book Thief. However, we brought in some grammar reinforcement to tie our subjects together. Grammar charts are my favorite way to teach grammar because it allows the teacher to do a quick and efficient checkpoint. Having the students work backwards (from part of speech to sentence rather than having a sentence to identify parts of speech) allows for application and shows whether mastery is fully developed.

I began by reminding my students what dependent clauses vs. independent clauses were. We discussed subordinating conjunctions and the differences between a clause and a phrase ¬†as well. Once our review was complete, I gave them their mission: to create a sentence with a dependent clause and independent clause that represented irony from today’s reading. Here is what they came up with:

  1. Although none was there, he had hope in the most dangerous place (11 year old student)
  2. Now that he had escaped danger, Max’s chances of dying were still high. (14 year old student)

With those two sentences, I can check for grammar understanding as well as their comprehension of the irony from our reading today.


Next I gave them a chart with the following parts of speech written at the top of separate columns: subject/ linking verb/ predicate adjective/ conjunction/ predicate adjective. I instructed them to create a sentence that showed characterization.

  1. Liesel is educated but dumb (14 year old student) … (Not very kind but true of her academic intelligence)
  2. Max is scared but energized (11 year old student)

That is as far as we got today. A few more charts I had planned, but didn’t get to are below:

1. Represent personification with – article adjective/ subject/ prepositional phrase/ verb/ prepositional phrase

My example: The house on Himmel Street stared at Max.

2. Represent mood and tone with Рarticle adjective/ adjective/ adjective/ subject/ prepositional phrase/ linking verb/ predicate adjective.

My example: The gloomy, ominous feeling of the train ride felt thick

This strategy can be used to teach or to reinforce. I highly recommend giving it a try. You’ll quickly see whether your students understand the particular parts of speech you need to assess, as well as provide insight into their mastery of literary devices. Be sure to let me know how it goes for you, if you decide to use this in your classroom or at home with your homeschoolers.

Until next time …