When it comes to teaching punctuation, it’s so easy to fall right into a mere memorization lesson. But, let’s explore this topic and find what’s actually interesting!
Let’s start with a universal theme. I immediately thought of a connection to Power and to Change. Specifically, the idea that “a small change can have great power”.
Sometimes tiny changes lead to huge effects. What is the smallest change we could make to a sentence to change its meaning?
I’d open with that classic comma joke, “Commas save lives”:
- Let’s eat, grandma.
- Let’s eat grandma.
A tiny little comma changes this sentence from a wholesome meal with grandma to… something more sinister. I think I’ve found some controversy!
Build Out The Lesson
Then, we take an interesting idea and build out an honest-to-goodness lesson:
- I’d look for some other examples to share.
- “I’m giving you twenty-five dollar bills.” vs. “I’m giving you twenty five-dollar bills.”
- “Watch out for that man eating chicken!” vs “Watch out for that man-eating chicken!”
- I’d model by showing how I could add, remove, or change punctuation to drastically impact a sentence’s meaning.
- Students would play with sentences I planned out for them.
- Finally, once I’m convinced that they “get it,” they’re free to create their own sentences from scratch.
You can see what I actually ended up with over at Byrdseed.TV.
By starting with a universal theme and building off some old joke I heard once, I’ve landed on a lesson that will get kids’ brains sweating!