Thursday, February 3, 2011

Grammar Street Characters Help Youngsters With Nouns and Verbs

Common Noun lives on a farm in Lower Case Countryside; Proper Noun lives in a high-rise apartment in Capital City. Their stories of usage in sentence structure are part of a new book designed to help students grasp basic parts of speech: nouns and verbs.

“Grammar Street: A Guide to Nouns and Verbs,” written by Valarie Warr Gober, a fourth grade teacher at Fayetteville Intermediate School in Fayette County, uses illustrations and stories that are told in character, with voices and emotion, and sometimes in costume, to help youngsters remember the basic functions of nouns and verbs.

An excerpt from the book states that Proper Noun dresses in a sophisticated top hat and carries a classy cane. He never says store or restaurant, but uses the actual name such as “Fluffy” instead of “cat.” The teacher or parent is encouraged to accessorize with a top hat and cane, and speak in a “rich and famous” voice when telling Proper Noun’s story.

Gober was a student teacher at an elementary school in Milledgeville, GA when she began developing the characters of her book, realizing she needed to do more to help students understand grammar than just complete the lessons in the textbook.

“I was surprised that fourth graders were still unclear about the most basic parts of speech. So, I began drawing the citizens of Grammar Street and telling stories,” she says. “Students soon began to look forward to grammar and were increasingly able to remember the basic functions of nouns and verbs long after the lesson was taught.”

She brought her stories to Fayetteville Intermediate when she began teaching there six years ago, and soon teachers throughout the school were encouraging her to put them into a format that any parent or teacher could pick up and use. It took Gober three years, working on and off, to complete the book. She finally saw printed copies roll off the presses just before the Christmas.

“The majority of my feedback thus far has come from my students and colleagues, all of whom have been very encouraging,” she says.

In fact, Gober has been asked to write a guide for adjective and adverbs. She says she has some ideas, but they are in the developmental stages.

“I’m still bouncing them around with the children to see what seems to work best. If new characters and stories emerge that consistently help children grasp concepts of adjectives and adverbs, then I will pursue putting them into a format that will assist teachers in using those strategies as well,” she says.

Grammar Street is available for purchase at, and at

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