Punctuation Fun!

September 29, 2013
Carolyn from Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together. I am so excited to be guest blogging for Mrs. M today.  I was trying to decide what topic to write about, and thought I would go with one of my favorite things to teach:  PUNCTUATION MARKS!

We have SO much fun with them in our class.  Here is a little story to illustrate this truth...  I had a little boy two years ago whose parents told me that he was a "selective mute" basically.  He had only said a few words the entire pre- school year.  This year his brother started pre- school, and the dad told the teacher, "His brother didn't talk to anyone either, and then Mrs. Kisloski got him all riled up about punctuation marks and he couldn't stop talking."  So---  those things are sort of magical.  ;)

 Last year, I found a new favorite book.  Yes I did! 

It makes a wonderful Writer's Workshop mini lesson, because my kids had a ball writing punctuation stories. The Ellipsis, The Question Mark, and The Exclamation Point are favorites. 

It is perfect for Kindergarten. My kids love it. I should say, "MY KIDS LOVE IT!!!!!" It is a very clever story and really teaches about all of the punctuation marks. I love this question mark page:

One of my little girls wrote this Question Mark Book for me, FULL of questions.  

Here is her sweet dedication.  <3

She shared it, and I answered the questions in it.  Notice on her, "What will you be when you grow up?" page, the illustration with the question is me as a doctor. hmmm. 

When she read it, she said, "Maybe you could be a doctor... Or a horse. hmmm.  We still had some work to do, but this book will be in my library right beside My Exclamation Point book forever. 

We also  play Four Corners with punctuation marks.  I have a bag full of different sentences that require different punctuation: statements, questions, lists of things that need commas, and excited sentences. The four corners of the room are labeled with a paper  that says Period., Question Mark?, Exclamation Point!, and Comma, .  It is played like all Four Corners games.  The children choose and run to a corner. I pull out a sentence and read it. The children in the corner with the punctuation mark that the sentence needs have to go sit down.  Then, the children who are left run to a different corner, and I draw another sentence. We keep playing until there is one person left. 

Here is a little Punctuation Poem I made up. My little actresses were very deliberate doing this because I told them they were going to teach other people how to say the poem. :)

On  Dr. Jean & Friends wonderful blog (I added the wonderful part!) she shared some ideas from her trip to California.  I absolutely loved this song idea:

Writing Song (Dawna Hunter)
(Tune: "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes")
Top to bottom,
Left to right (Left to right)
Top to bottom
Left to right (Left to right)
My mind knows that writing goes
Top to bottom
Left to right (Left to right.)

I can't wait to use it.  SO I started thinking of other songs and came up with one to teach the names of punctuation marks. The motions will be like the poem above. You need to make the punctuation mark as you sing the name- for example when you say, "Question mark" you make the top part in the air during "question" and the dot as a punch, during "mark."  "Period" is a hand out like stop.  "Ex-cla-ma-tion" is the line down, and "point" is a punch.  "Comma" is a one hand comma, "Quotation marks" are  air quotes, and  "E-lips-sis" is hitting your hand with each syllable .

This little song goes to Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, too:

Question mark
Ex-cla-ma-tion  POINT!
Question mark
Ex-cla-ma-tion POINT!
Quotation marks,
Question mark,
Ex-cla-ma-tion POINT!

So far this year I have introduced period, question mark, and exclamation point.  My kids are very good at telling me the name these punctuation marks and when to use them . The children are fabulous at pointing them out in every story we read. They are off to a great start.  I am even seeing them experiment using punctuation in their very early writing. It seems to give them a sense of power to put a period after each word and try it out! 
As the children write more, they just love to stick a period at the end of a line of writing, not after a complete thought.  This activity below really helps them to hear when a complete thought ends and when they naturally come to a stop when reading.   I made up a paper with sentences, but no periods. I did this activity as a small group last year, and it worked beautifully.  Everyone got a pack of Smarties and six of these awesome little stickers.  

I found these stickers at a Teacher Store, and they just look like a hand saying, "STOP!"  Perfect for a period!

I tried to write simple sentences that did not always end at the end of the line, but sometimes in the middle of a line, so they could hear when a sentence ended and not just stick a period at the end of the page.  Learning that a sentence is a complete thought- and that a sentence does not always just end at the end of the paper- is the trickiest thing about learning to use a period.  (Well, that and remembering to actually USE one! )

I have also used Fruit Loops for this activity, but Smarties seemed perfect.  Of course they need to eat one before they begin for Smartie Power!  Then, after we put on the Smarties, we read the sentences together and clap at each period (Smartie).  Next, the child can eat the Smartie and replace it with a sticker.  

Since they each got six stickers and only needed five periods, I dictated a sentence on the back so they could end that with their final sticker.  One group only wrote one dictated sentence, but for the others, I dictated a statement, a question, and one that needed an exclamation point.

I am in the process of trying to make pasta punctuation marks. It is a work in progress- but I used these pastas:

I played around with them trying to turn them into hands-on punctuation marks.  Not real thrilled with the question mark... hmmm.  That one will keep me up at night- still a work in progress. I love that versatile little elbow noodle- he's busy all over the place!  Of course I wouldn't have Kindergarteners do something like this- but maybe they could add exclamation points on a paper, or periods- some commas on another- or even quotation marks later in the year.  Maybe I should invent a question mark shaped pasta and just retire.  You could also color the pasta to make it more fun, of course! This is just a sample of what you could do-

If any of you invent a question mark shaped pasta, let me know! I have lots of punctuation activities/videos on my Primary Writing Prezi at my TPT store. I love making and using Prezis in my classroom.

This is the Prezi I use each day for Writer's Workshop. I have also bundled my Beginning Reading and Writing Prezis at my TPT store. 

Finally- my friend, knowing my love of punctuation marks, sent me this:
8 New Punctuation Marks We Desperately Need.  Are you ready?!?!

And I will leave you with MY FAVORITE...

Thank you for letting me share today!  Have a wonderful day!


  1. Invent the punctuation pasta and it would sell out immediately! Great post, Carolyn!

    Teaching in the Tongass

  2. sometimes wrong punctuation can cause a serious conflict! edit-it.org has some punctuation marks you probably don't know!


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