Teaching Punctuation Paper Plate Signs

Part of my job as a remedial therapist, is to present a weekly writing group to grade 3’s and 4’s. Together with a speech therapist and occupational therapist, we help these students in developing their writing skills, thus teaching them about all the punctuation etc. extending what they’ve learned in class.

(punctuation paper plates)

Last week we made the analogy about punctuation being like driving on a road. You need road signs to guide you through traffic, otherwise it might be disastrous. Just like that you need punctuation signs in sentences, to help you to write correctly, so it will be easily understood by everyone that reads it. Not like the following:


So here is how this class went:
We first revised on what a sentence is: a few words together to state a fact. This is a plain sentence, but then you get asking questions like ‘Is it Monday today?’ and then you need a “sign” to show the reader that it is a question, thus a question mark. You also get a stressed sentence like ‘Stop that yelling!’, and then you need an exclamation mark to help the reader to read it correctly: stressed.

I gave each student a paper plate with a punctuation mark on. Then I gave a sentence and the students with the correct mark must lift it in the air, like a traffic officer.

Then we stopped plates around. Now I asked each student to make a sentence using their punctuation mark, but the rest of us cannot see the plate, and must guess which mark is on the plate. If we guess correct, the child can jump up and show us the plate.

For visual and kinesthetic learners, this method of learning(with props) works best. They see the plates, with the colour-coded marks, and also handling the plates gives an active learning opportunity ,which is invaluable.

We placed the plates on the carpet, and I gave a sentence, and they had to jump quickly on the appropriate plate. This got wild with the whole group, so we did two children at a time.

The last step was to do actual writing in our books. Here I wrote sentences, without punctuation, on the board. We read it as a class, and then the students had to copy it, and add the punctuation marks that fit.

A fun, but educational activity, learning to use punctuation marks!

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