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Fun Common Nouns and Proper Nouns Review Activities

Fun and quick activities to use when reviewing common nouns and proper nouns with your upper elementary students.


Common nouns and proper nouns are one of those grammar standards that we usually review with our upper elementary students at the start of the school year. I've always found it so intriguing how students seem to forget many of these grammar terms even after hearing them multiple times in previous years. Luckily, we can usually move those "files" from the back of their brains to the front once again quickly. 


In this post, you will find some engaging activities for common and proper nouns that will help you do just that.


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Books and videos to use when reviewing common nouns and proper nouns with your upper elementary students.

Begin with a Read Aloud or a Video

Reading a picture book or showing a video is always an easy and engaging way to start off a lesson. Although finding videos or picture books for upper elementary students when reviewing lower grade standards can be challenging, it is definitely possible.


A book that I found that pairs nicely as a reintroduction to common and proper nouns is A Lime, a Mime, a Pool of Slime by Brian P. Cleary. This book focuses on common, proper, and even touches on abstract nouns. The nouns are written in a large colored font. It allows them to stand out so you can quickly showcase the difference between the (lowercase) common nouns and the (capitalized) proper nouns. 


If you, your school, or your district have a membership to Brainpop, Tim and Moby have a nice lesson on nouns. I love that it's under three minutes making it a quick way to reintroduce common and proper nouns to your students. It reviews common nouns, proper nouns, compound nouns, plural nouns, abstract nouns and even concrete nouns. Talk about covering a lot in very little time.

Whole Group Common and Proper Nouns Lesson

It's always a good idea to have students gather notes to keep inside of their notebook. This allows them to quickly reference back if they ever forget a skill or standard. 


Because this a review standard, notes and explanations should be quick, but don't skip out on it. Trust me when I say that some students will need a refresher again later in the school year. A quick reference into their notebooks and that 'brain file' returns right back to the front of their brain.


With any grammar concept, it is a good idea to show definitions and examples to the students. In this case, since it is a review skill, a simple discussion and a few notes will do the trick. You can also display posters in your classroom or use them as a guide for notetaking.


(If you'd like a set of common and proper nouns posters sent to your inbox to use during your own lesson, you can sign up below.)


    Another one of the common and proper nouns activities that I love to use with my students is a print and fold grammar booklet. They are low prep and offer high engagement. 


    We use the cover page as the 'notes' and students highlight keywords instead of having to write down notes in their notebook. This saves us valuable minutes in the classroom especially when discussed previously taught skills. These booklets are then used as part of the students independent practice. 


    Fun and quick activities to implement when reviewing common and proper nouns with your upper elementary students.

    Provide Practice Opportunities

    Give students opportunities to practice identifying common nouns and proper nouns through different engaging activities. 

    Some simple yet fun activities are:

    • Thumbs UP/Thumbs DOWN 👍🏽👎🏻

    In this activity, you display or call out different nouns. If the noun is a common noun, students put their thumbs down. If the noun is a proper noun, students put their thumbs up.

    There are of course different variations of this activity you can implement such as:

            Stand UP/Sit DOWN
            Face FORWARD/Face BACKWARDS
            Arms CROSSED/ Arms EXTENDED

            These variations are a great way to get kids moving and out of their seats without walking around the classroom.

    Fun and quick activities to use when reviewing common nouns and proper nouns with your upper elementary students.

    • Gallery Walk

    This type of activity I love to do for many different topics. The proper noun gallery walk is explained in detail at Education World, but here you'll find the summarized version. 

    Place multiple chart papers around the room. Label each paper with a proper noun category. (ex. product names, company names, geographic names, languages, ethnicities, etc.) Include a chart paper that is titled 'other.' Here students can include proper nouns that do not fall into the other categories posted around the room. Divide students into the same number of groups as you have chart papers. Each group gets a different color marker. 

    Give groups about 2-3 minutes at each chart paper to write as many proper nouns for each category as they can. (They should not repeat other nouns found on the paper.) At the end of the activity, tally up the number of suggestions per group using the color of the markers as your guide. Take time to discuss the chart paper titled 'other' and see what categories they would fall into.


    • Task Cards

    Have students practice identifying the correct common and proper nouns using task cards or Boom Cards. I absolutely LOVE assigning digital task cards because they are no prep and self-checking. 

    No prep task cards to use when reviewing common nouns and proper nouns with your upper elementary students.


    Assessing Students' Understanding

    Finally, you will want to assess students' understanding of common and proper nouns.

    A few suggestions for assessing are:

    • Dictating sentences to students and having them write them down. Check to make sure they have capitalized proper nouns.
    • Providing them with a printable or digital quiz. I usually like to use a standard based quick check assessment that I can use to record and easily document. 
    • Continue to monitor students' writing, particularly those that you know have previously had difficulty capitalizing proper nouns.

    Assessing your students understanding of common nouns and proper nouns.

    These suggestions offer a variety of ways that you can reintroduce common nouns and proper nouns to your students. I hope they give you some new and useful ideas that you can use this year.


    Fun and quick activities to use when reviewing common nouns and proper nouns with your upper elementary students.






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