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Punctuation Activities & Games

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Understanding how punctuation works is key to good writing and even sophisticated reading. This lesson offers activities and games, which can be applied at various grade levels, for teaching students about punctuation within English grammar.

Good Punctuation Counts

Have you ever read the work of a student who does not understand punctuation? Even if the student is a strong and creative writer in many other ways, their lack of good punctuation can make it impossible to comprehend what they are trying to say. Sentences look like run-ons, nuances are lost, and clauses are confusing to understand. One of the best ways to teach students more about punctuation is to involve them in activities and games that help them take ownership over their own learning and usage. The more active students are in their mastery of punctuation, the better equipped they will be to incorporate punctuation properly into their writing. In today's world, with so many kinds of communication available, it is all too easy for students to forget some of the basic rules of grammar and mechanics. Yet without appropriate punctuation usage, writing can be difficult to understand and communication can really go astray. This lesson offers games and activities that help students use punctuation properly.

Punctuation Games

These games are meant to make it fun and exciting to learn about using punctuation.

Guess My Mark

This is a great game for playing in whole groups or small groups. Students take turns coming to the front of the class. At the front, they should say or write a sentence for the class. The sentence should be lacking a key punctuation mark. For instance, students could write, 'On Sunday I went to the movies and I saw Eddie with his mom his dad and his sister.' Other students must raise their hands to guess which punctuation mark is missing. In this case, it is a comma. The student gets to choose a classmate to come up and put the punctuation mark in the sentence everywhere it is missing; if they do so accurately, they get to compose the next sentence.

Punctuation Jeopardy

For this game, you will need to prepare a jeopardy board in advance, but you can also put students to work by having your more advanced users of punctuation prepare the board. There should be one column assigned to each form of punctuation that students are studying. For example, in elementary grades it would be appropriate to have columns for periods, question marks, and exclamation marks. Sentences or passages within each category should misuse that punctuation mark in increasingly challenging ways. When a team or partnership selects an item, they have one minute to correctly place the punctuation mark; if they do so, they receive the corresponding points for that item. If not, a different team gets a chance to try. Have a volunteer keep track of the points that are earned by each team.

Punctuation Activities

These activities allow students to work with and think about punctuation in a variety of ways.

Punctuation Hunt

One of the best ways for students to learn about different kinds of punctuation is to pay attention to how the writers they like to read use them in their works. During students' independent reading time, ask them to attend to the use of a particular punctuation mark, like quotation marks or semi-colons. Ask students to make notes in their reader's notebook when they see this punctuation. At the end of the period, bring students together to talk about what they have observed about this punctuation mark and how it is used.

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