As with all things Montessori, the way that we engage students in their academic activities is by making everything hands-on--and hopefully, bringing in the fun along the way. This is true of everything that we do--even with something as esoteric as grammar. Most of the time, when we talk with parents, we discover that grammar was one of those areas taught mostly in their foreign language classes, but not something that they typically remember from elementary school.
In Montessori, our very first grammar lesson is with the nouns. We start by inviting the students to the rug and asking them to look around the classroom and find something with a name. Of course, they begin naming the rug, the pencil, the clipboard, and even themselves. Yay! Wonderful, we tell them. Now, we have a challenge for you. We'd like you to go all through the classroom and bring back something without a name.
This challenge is often met with excitement. Let's go! The students go off on their mission, searching mightily for something they can bring back to the mat without a name. After much effort, they will bring back an orthoceras fossil, a triangular based prism, a hexablock, or even a blue goldstone. We marvel at their findings, but let them know that each of the items they brought, does indeed have a name and we name them. They must return these items to where they found them and try again.
Eventually, one student will see the trick in the challenge. Everything that could be brought to a mat, has a name and so our task was impossible. We show the students the symbol for naming words--the large black triangle--and we tell them that another name for naming words is Nouns. The students are then ready to go on their Noun Hunt. They must traverse the school looking for as many nouns as they can find and writing them down underneath the symbol.
This lesson remains an annual favorite and one that each succeeding year of students wants to revisit even when they already have a firm grasp of nouns.