The KISS Grammar Workbooks
 
Treasure Hunts

      In a Treasure Hunt, students are sent to find a few specific examples of a specific construction or constructions. Teachers can limit the range of the hunt, or they can make it wide open. For example, they can require all the students to find their examples in the same specific text, or they can have students limit the hunt to magazine articles, or they can leave the range open to any printed (or electronic) text. Perhaps the greatest importance of Treasure Hunts is that they lead students into thinking about grammar in the context of what they read. Grammar is no longer isolated just to grammar exercises.
     Teachers can, of course, collect and grade the results of hunts, but a more effective approach (and an easier one for the teacher) is to have students share the results of the hunt with the class. And the best way of doing this is to suggest to students that, in reporting their results, they are helping to teach the rest of the class. The fastest way of doing this is to have each student read aloud the sentences he or she found and identify the relevant constructions in them. Some students, however, are helped by visual presentations, so some of the "treasure" might be written on the board or, with a washable ink pen, on an overhead transparency. Instead of devoting all or most of a class period to sharing the results of the hunt, some teachers may prefer to have one or two students share at the beginning of each class. This approach may be even more effective because it provides a very quick daily review. Sharing the results of treasure hunts can be a pleasant change of pace in the classroom, especially if the "field" of the hunt includes jokes. 
     An alternative to using these suggestions for hunts would be to have the students write sentences that fit the "treasure" requirements. [See "Recipe Rosters."] Doing so is not a bad idea, but my experience has been that students will tend to write simple, cookie-cutter sentences. They will probably learn more about the variations in prepositional phrases if they are asked to find examples in texts. To make sure that students found, rather than made up, the "treasure," you may want to require them to bring the text to class.
     Hunts can be used several times throughout the year, especially if the "treasure" is comparable to what they have just been learning about. Hunts reinforce students' ability to recognize prepositional phrases, and they help the students see that what they are learning clearly applies to everything that they read and write.

Team Hunts

     My college students still like team competitions, so I am assuming that other students do also. Divide the class into teams of three, four, or five students. Give each team the same set of three, four, or five short texts. (Any of the paragraphs or poems in the workbooks would do.) Each member of each team takes one of the texts and searches for the specified "treasure." Give the class a specified amount of time to hunt (five to twenty minutes, depending on the texts), and then use the rest of the class to share the treasure orally. 


Suggestions for Defining the "Treasure"

 KISS Level One: Prepositional Phrases

1. Find and bring to class a sentence that includes two prepositional phrases.

2. Find and bring to class a sentence that begins with a prepositional phrase.

3. Find and bring to class a sentence that includes two prepositional phrases, one that functions as an adjective, and one that functions as an adverb.

4. Find and bring to class a sentence that has at least three prepositional phrases in it.

5. Find and bring to class the sentence that you can find that has the most prepositional phrases in it.

6. Find and bring to class sentences that include a phrase based on each of the following prepositions -- "beyond," "but," "despite," "except" and "per." [Note that the objective here is to send students looking for phrases based on prepositions that are less commonly used.]

7. Find and bring to class a sentence that has a prepositional phrase with a compound object, for example, "They played with Sarah and Bobby."

8. Find and bring to class two sentences. In one sentence, "to" should be used as a preposition; in the other, "to" should not be used as a preposition.

9. Find and bring to class two sentences, one with "to" used as a preposition, and one with "too" used as an adverb.

10. Find and bring to class two sentences for each of the following -- "after," "because," "before," "like," "since," and "until." In one sentence, the word should function as a preposition; in the other, it should not.

11. Find and bring to class sentences (or a sentence) that illustrate(s) both aligned and  embedded prepositional phrases.

12. Find and bring to class two embedded phrases and two aligned phrases in something you yourself have written. (If you cannot find them in something you have written, write sentences that contain them.)
 

A text-specific treasure hunt:
For embedded phrases in James Baldwin's "Cornelia's Jewels" 
[Grade 3, November 26]



KISS Level Two: S/V/C Patterns

1. Find and bring to class a sentence that has a three-part compound subject. (Bill, Sue, and Mary went swimming.)

2. Find and bring to class a sentence that has at least a three-part compound verb. (They went swimming, took a nap, and then headed for the ballpark.)

3. Find and bring to class a sentence that has compound direct objects. (Sarah saw the monkeys and lions at the zoo.)

4. Find and bring to class a sentence that has a passive verb in it.



KISS Level Three: Clauses

1. In a newspaper, find one sentence with compound main clauses and one sentence with an adverbial clause.

2. In one of your textbooks, find a sentence with an adjectival clause and a sentence with a noun clause.
 

Additional Relevant Hunts

For Dashes, Colons, and Semicolons [Grade 7, March 12]

Creating a Sentence Combining Exercise from a newspaper story on sports [Grade 8, Dec. 12]



KISS Level Four: Verbals

1. Find and bring to class a sentence that has a gerund used as a direct object.

2. Find and bring to class a sentence that has a gerund used as a subject.

3. Find and bring to class a sentence that has a gerund used as the object of a preposition.

4. Find and bring to class a sentence that has a gerundive in it.

5. Find and bring to class a sentence that has an infinitive used as a direct object.

6. Find and bring to class a sentence that has an infinitive used as an adverb.

7. Find and bring to class a sentence that has an infinitive used as an adjective.

8. Find and bring to class a sentence that has an infinitive used as a subject.

9. Find and bring to class a sentence that has an infinitive used as the object of a preposition.

10. Find and bring to class a sentence that has an infinitive used as a predicate noun.



KISS Level Five: Additional Constructions

1. Find and bring to class one sentence with an interjection in it.

2. Find and bring to class one sentence with a noun used as an adverb in it.

3. Find and bring to class one sentence with an example of direct address in it.

4. Find and bring to class one sentence with an appositive in it.

5. Find and bring to class one sentence with a retained complement in it.

6. Find and bring to class one sentence with a delayed subject in it.

7. Find and bring to class one sentence with a post-positioned adjective in it.

8. Find and bring to class one sentence with a noun absolute in it.


Other

1. Find a short passage from a poem that you like, and analyze its syntax.

Student's Choice

     Once or twice a year it is probably a good idea to invite the students to themselves find short passages for analysis. The objective, of course, is to prove to students that what they are learning applies to anything that they may read. You should probably set an expectation of length, for example, 25 to 50 words. Otherwise, some students will bring in one very short sentence, and others will analyze a 200-word passage. Have them copy their selection, double-spaced. They can analyze it in or out of class, and then you can have them work in small groups to check and discuss their analyses.