Language Tips: How to Teach Nouns

Teaching nouns blog post

This blog post is all about language tips for teaching nouns. Nouns are the first language skill you should teach. Nouns are found in all texts and are important for students to learn. There are many types of nouns and pronouns. Beginning with teaching nouns first is good practice.

Common core standards for each grade level build on the prior grade’s standards. Throughout this blog post, you will see how these tips and resources build on each other and progress through the grades. There are resources for Kindergarten through 3rd grade referenced in this post.


This blog post is going to discuss how to teach nouns at each stage. First, we will discuss how to introduce nouns. After that, we will progress to more advanced lessons like abstract and collective nouns. There is an order the nouns should be taught in primary grades. This spans four grade levels. Here is the order I think nouns should be taught.

  • Introduction to Nouns and What They Are
  • Common Nouns vs. Proper Nouns
  • Plural Nouns
  • Irregular Plural Nouns
  • Possessive Nouns and Reflexive Pronouns
  • How Nouns Affect Verb Tenses
  • Collective Nouns
  • Abstract Nouns

Read below for a deeper dive into each of these stages.

Introduction to Nouns and What They Are

Noun anchor chart- what are nouns

In Kindergarten and 1st Grade, students will be introduced to nouns and learn more about what exactly they are. In these grades, students will learn about nouns being a person, place, or thing. Much of the learning at this point will involve determining what the noun is and deciding if it is a person, a place, or a thing.

Noun anchor chart-what are nouns

Activities such as the picture sorts and anchor chart above will help students pick out the nouns and categorize them as a person, place, or thing. With the anchor chart, students will see the types of words that count as nouns and have fun adding to the list. Repetition and discussing nouns in stories, sentences, and pictures is a great way to help young students learn about nouns.

Common Nouns and Proper Nouns

common vs. proper nouns anchor chart

In 1st grade, students dive into common and proper nouns. They will learn the difference between a common noun being a general person, place or thing and a proper noun being the actual name of the person, place, or thing. Students will also learn that common nouns are written in all lowercase letters while proper nouns begin with a capital letter. An anchor chart like this is a great way to learn about these two types of nouns while seeing the difference between them.

common and proper nouns sorting game

Your students will enjoy coming up with proper nouns that correspond with the common noun. This is a great way to work on environmental text as well. Common and proper nouns are a 1st grade standard. Certainly, check out my 1st grade resource for fun activities, such as hands-on sorts to help your students differentiate common and proper nouns.

Plural Nouns and Irregular Plural Nouns

Noun anchor chart

After teaching about common and proper nouns, it is time to teach your students about plural and irregular plural nouns. Plural and irregular plural nouns are learned in grades Kindergarten through 3rd grade, getting increasingly more complex as the grades progress. Kindergarten students will begin learning that adding an “s” or “es” to a word makes it plural, meaning more than one.

In 1st grade, students begin using their knowledge of plural nouns to match verbs with the correct tense. By 2nd grade, the students learn that some nouns are spelled differently when there are more than one, making them irregular plurals. Finally, by 3rd grade, the students are applying their knowledge of plural and irregular plural nouns and spelling rules to form and use them in sentences with proper language. A few ways to teach these skills are to have your students help you add words to your classroom anchor charts or come up with lists on the board.

plural and irregular plural activities

Moreover, using different colored markers when making a noun plural or irregular is a good visual for students. Additionally, this skill will help them with their day-to-day language as they learn the difference between nouns, plural nouns, and irregular plural nouns. Word sorts and activities such as the true or false cards above give students ample practice with determining the correct use and spelling of plural and irregular plural nouns at all ages.

examples and non-examples of plural nouns for kindergarten

How Nouns Affect Verb Tenses

Noun-verb agreement activity

Next, your students will work on putting nouns and verbs together. Teaching your students about how nouns affect verb tenses is a key skill. Depending on whether the noun is singular or plural determines the type of verb you will use. This spinner activity gives the students practice with many noun-verb agreement scenarios. As a result, they will also analyze if the sentence makes sense.

(Source: 1st Grade L11c: Plural Nouns)

Possessive Nouns and Reflexive Pronouns

possessive noun activity

Possessive nouns are introduced in 1st grade. This activity is a great way to introduce the concept of possessive nouns, as it explains the definition and gives students practice with making the nouns possessive in each sentence. Therefore, your students will learn how to properly use apostrophes in their writing. For more hands-on activities to use in your study of possessive nouns, check out my 1st grade resource.

Possessive Nouns activity

(Source: 1st Grade L11b: Nouns)

Reflexive pronoun activity

Reflexive pronouns are a more complicated to teach. The reason is that the spelling changes completely. This is introduced in 2nd grade. Students must have a strong understanding of pronouns when learning about reflexive pronouns. Activities such as this matching game will help your students make connections between pronouns and reflexive pronouns. This skill will help them develop language and vocabulary skills.

(Source: 2nd Grade L21c: Reflexive Pronouns)

Collective Nouns

Collective Nouns anchor chart

Collective nouns are studied in 2nd grade. These refer to groups of people, animals, or things. Again, using an anchor chart to introduce and practice examples of collective nouns is a great teaching strategy. Your students will be able to get creative and see how many collective nouns they can come up with. One of my favorite activities from my 2nd grade resource is the collective noun flip-book activity.

Collective Nouns Activities

Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns anchor charts

The final type of noun we will discuss are abstract nouns. These are introduced in 3rd grade. Abstract nouns are ideas, not people, places, animals, or things. This is difficult for students to understand, so be sure to teach this explicitly. This anchor chart represents many abstract nouns. Use this in a whole group or small group discussion with students and see what abstract nouns they can add.

Abstract Noun sorting game

In my 3rd grade resource, there are concrete and abstract noun sorts to help your students understand the difference. There is also an activity with guiding questions. This will help them determine if they can use their 5 senses with the noun. If they cannot, then it is an abstract noun.

Suggested Resources That Will Help Streamline Your Noun Lessons

Teaching nouns is an important skill throughout elementary school. To help you streamline your lessons and ensure that you are hitting the key standards, check out my language skills resources below for grades Kindergarten through 3rd grade.

Kindergarten:

1st Grade:

2nd Grade:

3rd Grade:

Need it DIGITALLY?

I have created digital Noun activities in ready-made Google Slides. These are for Kindergarten, first, second and third grades.

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