About 10 years ago, when I was trying to prepare my sophomores in Tulsa for Oklahoma’s End-of-Instruction test, I noticed that pronoun-antecedent agreement seemed to come up frequently on practice tests.
My kids had trouble getting their heads around the idea that “everybody” is a singular pronoun. No matter how many times we went over it, they would forget. After all, “everybody” certainly sounds plural. Why would it be singular?
To help them remember, I took a Sharpie to a Twister game to create what might be the world’s most kinesthetic grammar lesson: Pronoun Twister.
To create your own Pronoun Twister game, start with a standard Twister game. Using a Sharpie or similar permanent marker, write a pronoun on each dot on the mat, alternating between singular and plural pronouns so you end up with an equal number of each. Then write “S” for singular or “P” for plural on each dot on the spinner, alternating between them.
Pronoun Twister is played just like regular Twister, with these exceptions:
1. Whoever has the spinner must note whether the player is to touch a singular or plural pronoun. Thus, the instruction might be, “Right hand, red, singular” or “Left foot, blue, plural.”
2. When you touch a dot, you must read the pronoun aloud and call out whether it is singular or plural so everybody can learn.
3. If a player chooses the wrong pronoun, he is out.
4. Because the singular/plural designation effectively halves the number of available options, no more than two players can be on the mat at one time. If you try to squeeze in extra kids, you run out of dots too fast, and the game is no fun.
As a precaution, I always remind the students that while awkward positions are inevitable, any inappropriate touching will result in a permanent ban on the game. If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll love the game way too much to risk losing the chance to play it.
Pronoun Twister has become my go-to means of reviewing before state testing and killing time on days when the kids are too goofy to pay attention to a more traditional lesson (e.g., after state testing or on the last day before a break).