Teaching Tips for Plurals, Plurals, Plurals,
Teach 5 ways to
spell plural words using this song:
1. “Sometimes add
_s and then you’re done.”
Most of the time, we add _s to form a plural.
Sometimes we add _s when a singular noun ends with a
vowel plus o.
Examples: studio, studios; stereo, stereos; burrito,
2. “Sometimes you add _es and then you’re done.”
Add _es if the singular noun ends with s, ss, ch, sh, x
Sometimes, we add _es when a singular noun ends with a
consonant plus o.
Examples: hero, heroes; tomato, tomatoes; tornado,
3. “Change the names.” (Note that some names, like deer,
stay the same.)
4. “Change the y to an i and add _es.”
Change the y to an i and add _es when a singular noun
ends with a consonant plus y.
Examples: puppy, puppies; guppy, guppies.
Exception 1: When adding a suffix to a word ending in y,
keep the y if the suffix begins with i.
Example: ing, in crying.
Exception 2: Just add _s to nouns ending in a vowel plus
Examples: turkey, turkeys; spray, sprays.
5. “Change the f to a v and add _es.”
Change the f to a v and add _es when a singular noun
ends with f or fe.
Examples: calf, calves; half, halves; shelf, shelves.
Exceptions: roof, roofs; cliff, cliffs.
• Rewrite plural
rules on a large poster or bulletin board.
• Create word
cards containing plural rules, as well as singular and
plural words. Sort words by playing “Plural Partners.”
Begin by placing the five plural rules on a pocket
chart. Tell children that they will place their plural
words under the appropriate headings. Next, tell all
children to put their heads in their hands and close
their eyes. Then give children singular or plural word
cards. When you are done handing out the cards, children
should find their partners. You may choose to use word
cards in several different ways, for several different
1) Use singular-plural cards containing pictures to help
English Language Learners develop vocabulary, and to
help struggling readers to feel successful.
2) Color-coded cards (in which singular-plural
combinations match) will help your struggling readers to
feel successful, while all children focus on print.
3) Non-color-coded cards will focus all attention on
• When playing “Plural Partners,” decide on a focus. At
first, you may only want to study words that end in _s.
Later, you may want to focus on two rules. Eventually,
use cards containing words that follow all five of the
rules. When children find their partners, they should...
1) Say or write
sentences using their words.
2) State the rule associated with their words.
3) Place their words under the appropriate heading on a
• Use word cards
from “Plural Partners” to create a matching center.
Children should match singular words to their plural
counterparts on a pocket chart or on the floor. Include
rule cards in your center.
notebooks are a great way to teach concepts to the
class. Write in notebooks 1-3 days/week for about 20
• This is an
example of a typical spelling lesson. Please revise
examples based on your students’ ideas.
Day 1: Write all
five plural rules on the board. As a class, brainstorm
words. Record students’ suggestions in the appropriate
Day 2: Write on
the white-board as children write in their spelling
notebooks. Entries may look something like this:
Plurals: Just add _s.
1. cat - cats The
cat has a toy. The cats have toys.
2. dog - dogs The dog is running. The dogs are running.
3. girl - girls The girl does a dance. The girls do a
By choosing only 3-5 words/day, you can expand on the
lesson by writing mini-definitions or sentences to
accompany each word pair. In this example, I have
focused on interesting grammar patterns. After singular
nouns, we say “has,” “is” and “does.” After plural
nouns, we say, “have,” “are,” and “do.”
Day 3: Today’s
entry might say...
Plurals: Add _es
1. watch - watches
1) Watches tell time. 2) She watches TV.
2. match - matches 1) Don’t play with matches. 2) His
tie matches his shirt.
3. wish - wishes 1) You get three wishes. 2) She wishes
for world peace.
In this example, the class may discuss multiple-meaning
words. For each of these words, meaning number one
contains a plural noun. Meaning number two is not a
plural; the word is now used as a verb.
Day 4 may say...
Change the names.
1. goose - geese
2. foot - feet
3. child - children
4. man - men
5. woman - women
On this day, the
class used more examples instead of adding definitions
Day 5 might say...
Change the y to an
i and add _es.
1. bunny -
bunnies: Bunnies are cute little animals that hop.
2. baby - babies: Babies are really young people.
3. berry - berries: Berries grow on bushes.
On this day, the
class focused on mini-definitions.
Change the f to a
v and add _es.
1. calf - calves:
Calves are baby cows.
2. half - halves: Two halves make a whole.
3. shelf - shelves: Put books on shelves.
Day 7: Give
children time to read their spelling notebooks with
phonics books containing plural endings. Circle the
endings and discuss the
• Create large
word cards containing plurals: Fold an 8 1/2 X 11 sheet
of paper in half like a hamburger. At the top, write a
word in blue, for example, dogs. On the bottom, write
“dog” in blue, and write the “s” in red. (Research
suggests that the brain responds well when we highlight
important information in red.) On the back of the card,
write, “Just add s.” Now, show the top of the card to
the class. Let them think for 5 seconds. Next, show them
the bottom of the card. Give them five more seconds to
think. Move the card through the air three times as the
class reads, “Dogs, dogs, dogs.” By moving the card
three times, children who don’t “get it” the first time
will get it the second and third time. Finally, ask the
children to think (for five seconds) about the rule for
this word. A child might say, “Just add s.” Allow the
class to confirm the answer by reading the back of the
card together. Once you have practiced these cards
together, put them in a “word card” center.
• You may want to
add other information to your word cards. For dogs, the
back of the card may read,
Plural rule: Just
Dogs: (noun): lovable animals with four legs and bad
• Decorate a shoe
box entitled “Plurals.” Cut a hole in the top. As
children read, encourage them to find new plural words.
They may write these on notecards and put them in the
box. Periodically, read the students’ cards, and add
these to your plural poster.