Within our literacy teaching there is a strong emphasis on Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG). To make the complexities of grammar accessible to young children the school uses a scheme known as Rainbow Grammar.
What Is Rainbow Grammar?
Rainbow Grammar is a systematic approach to teaching grammar and punctuation created by Jason Wade, a grammar expert. It separates sentences into eight parts of grammar and assigns each a colour. During their time at Woodthorpe Infant School, children can learn about each colour and how to combine them to build a rich array of sentence structures.
The Rainbow Grammar Colours
The colours help the children learn and recognise different sentence structures. The children build their sentences using different coloured strips of paper or using different coloured pens and pencils. We also use the smartboards to support their learning in this area. When we look at different texts we can play ‘text detectives’ and identify the constituent parts of the sentence by highlighting or underlining in the appropriate colour. At Woodthorpe Infant School we also include actions to further help the children embed their understanding, as well as our Rainbow Writing boards to support their learning.
There are three basic colours which underpin all sentences
Green = Subject. This is the who or what the sentence is about (usually a noun). We call it the ‘star of the sentence’!
E.g. Handa, fox, car, flower
We can add adjectives to the noun
E.g. Happy Handa, six foxes, red car, fragrant flower
We can also add a determiner like the, a, some, those, my
My red car
The six fast foxes
Some fragrant flowers
Orange = Predicate. What the subject of the sentence is doing or what is happening to them.
Red = The stop. This is a piece of punctuation that ends the sentence, such as a full-stop, question mark or exclamation mark. Red is also used for commas.
When the children put the parts together they have a simple sentence.
E.g. The six foxes played in the garden.
Children then build on the basic sentence structure as they become more experienced readers and writers and can experiment with using different structures to add interest, detail and suit text type.
Yellow is used for direct speech and is surrounded by inverted commas (speech marks).
Dark Blue is used for an adverbial clause. This joins a second idea to a sentence adding more detail to the verb. This can be moved around the sentence.
What the sentence progression looks like
The boy saw a troll.
One day the boy saw a troll.
One day the boy and his friend saw an ugly troll.
“I saw an ugly troll” the boy said.
The boy screamed because he saw an ugly troll.
Whenever he saw a troll the boy screamed.
At Woodthorpe Infant School this is used amid a wider programme of literacy, including phonics and Talk for Writing, and knowledge of it is built up over time. Children do not start writing complex sentences – they start by talking, developing vocabulary and enjoying opportunities to use this. Grammar is of course an important part of the curriculum, but it is by no means the whole picture of becoming a motivated, fluent and interesting writer.