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Capitalization and Punctuation

Compiled By: Meggin

Need some help getting your students to capitalize and punctuate correctly? Check out these ideas!

Capitals and ending punctuation.
Posted by: Sharon D. Wilson-Larsen

I'm not sure where I read this (one of the mailrings I guess) but someone once mentioned to allow each studnet to "edit" with green and red pencils or markers/pens. They must re-read and circle all the "beginnings" of their sentences with green - it means to GO! The sentences is starting. They must re-read their work for all ending punctuation and circle it. The red means to stop. If there is a mistake they must fix it before they can circle it in pen/marker. However remind them that this is only for rough drafts. Also be careful of other forms of punctuation besides the ? ! and the . For example commas would not be circled as these don't mean to come to a full stop. And also talk about other times capitals are used for proper nouns. These do always mean a new "beginning".

I teach grade one and I use this once in a while for our morning message if we have extra time in the mornings. A few are getting the idea to start with uppercase letters but I'm still reminding most of them them about "starting" and "stopping" the sentence. We are doing sentence dictations 2-3 times a week mostly to practice our word wall words but I give one point for a capital to begin the sentence and a point for ending punctuation.


Posted by: Carol Brace

Each morning when the children arrive, have one or two sentences written on the board with no punctuation and/or errors. Let them correct them, on writing paper or in their journals. Example:
tomorrow november 28 is thanksgiving day the pilgrims invited the indians to a feast the pilgrims said please come of our feast
The children have to capitalize several words, add commas, know where to put periods, and quotation marks in this example. You can adapt your sentences to fit whatever skill you are teaching. I was trying to stress the quotation marks here. They seem to like this and can do it while you are taking the roll, etc.

Posted by: Georgia Girl

You could have the characters in the pictures carry on a conversation. You could write the conversation in speech bubbles and have the students write the conversation correctly. This would cover capitalization, comma use, quotation marks and many other things - especially if you threw in things like book titles!

Speech Bubble 1: What are you looking for?
Speech Bubble 2: My umbrella.
Speech Bubble 3: Why?
Speech Bubble 4: Do you hear the rain?

Students Write:
Henry asked, "What are you looking for?"
James answered, "My umbrella."
Henry asked, "Why?"
James answered, "Do you hear the rain?"

You could also reverse this where you give the conversation and the students write what belongs in the bubbles.

Students could try to see how many words they could use before repeating a "speech" word - said, screamed, answered, yelled, whispered, croaked, gasped, sighed, etc.

This came to mind because a fellow teacher and I just gathered information to present a "Say What?!" workshop at school all based on speech bubbles and cartoons. Many of the ideas we had could be adapted to what your doing. Of course, that's all at school and we're out.

If you want me to send you some of the ideas we had, let me know and I'll send them to you when we're back in school or over the summer if I ever make it up there.

:) GG

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sound effects punctuation
Posted by: Meaghan

Working with 5ht grade students, I taught them to tap their fingers two times after a period and one time after a comma so their have better timing.

I've heard about sound effect punctuation and am eager to try it. This is how it goes.

Everytime you get to a period you do a specific sound (same sound every time, ex. smack your lips.)
A comma might be "hmmm" (to denote a pause)
A question mark could be "huh?"
An exclamation mark could be "woah!"
Quotation marks could be a double click with the hand movement.

Alternately, you can do walking punctuation where every time you get to:
a period. You stop.
a comma, You pause
a question mark You shrug
an exclamation mark You throw your hands up in the air.

Hope that helps

caps and punctuation
Posted by: bertie

Two little ideas I read quite a while ago that really started the ball rolling with punctuation; for grade 2 or 3, give the children a highlighter (or 2 different colors) and require that they highlight the capital and period (or question mark) on every sentence before handing in. For Grade 1, I put one of those small dot sized stickers next to each period they use.....suddenly they're using periods!! I start it in October because they really really like Halloween dot stickers.

Posted by: Becky

Write sentences on sentence strips, without punctuation marks. The amount of sent. depends on the lenght you are willing to let the game go on.
Assign teams (2).
Assign one student to be the display 'patrol' (the person who holds up the sent. strip)
Make 2 sets of punctuation marks on 8 x 10 const. paper.

Place one set of punct. marks in front of each team, (on the floor, board (mag.), desks or where ever the team can get access to it fast).

Have the student patrol display one sent. strip at a time. The teacher, patrol or monitor can say, "Ready, set, Go!"
One student from each team has to quickly pick the correct punctuation mark and race to the end of the sent., displaying their end mark. Then they have to explain why they chose the punct. mark.
You can pick a monitor to check if the team player got the correct answer and keep score or the teacher can be the monitor.

2. You can also have a cooperative game. Each group of students has to quickly put the correct end mark on a set of sent. (on a handout) within a given amount of time. Number of sent. depends on the lenght of time for each game session.They can each take turns putting a punctuation mark on one sent. or the team can have an assigned writer while the other member of the team call out the answers. Make sure that all teams get the same sent. The team which finishes first and has all the end marks correct wins. You can have a few handouts ready for several game sessions or just play one round. Then you can review their answers and have the st. explain their choices.

Posted by: Rita

In order to emphasize the importance of quotes, I use elbow macaroni... each student gets four. We use self-selected or trade books to find uses of quotes. Each student rewrites the section onto a sentence strip and glues the macaroni quotes where they belong. We post them. Kids love it! We do the same for apostrophes.... Believe it or not, they actually remember the name 'apostrophe' this way, too!

Also... check out the book(s): "Caught Ya: Grammar With a Giggle". This is a great method of targeting writing mechanics/language usage daily. I've taken their idea and made my own daily stories, etc.

Posted by: Judi

I taught the kids that the exclamation mark means strong feelings. So I call the mark an excitement mark. They tend to remember that better. For Example: I would say to the kids while giving directions..... This sentence need an excitement mark or exclamation mark. I always say both. That way they learn the real word along with its meaning.
I have taught 10 years and have found that they get better with it as they mature. Repeating what they need to do and modeling it for them is what will help them.

capitals and periods
Posted by: Cathy-Dee

I try quite a few things, but there are still kids who seem to always forget. I had one girl who was repeating first grade from last year, she capitalizes her T's, no matter where they are in sentences. It drives me crazy.

Some of the things that I do that seem to click with some of the kids.

- I make punctuation and sentences part of my spelling tests starting in December. They get marks for the capital and the ending punctuation (period or question mark)

- We use a program called Companion reading that emphasizes punctuation.

- I circle all lower case first letters and where ending punctuation should be. Then they have to make the necessary corrections. They don't like doing corrections so this does make them more conscious of what they are doing.

- I remind them 10 times a day.

But it is hard it seems for them to always remember automatically.

I'd love to hear more ideas myself.

Daily Language Editing...
Posted by: LindaR

I've tried various language practice activities with mixed results. Many of my sixth grade students struggle with grammar and punctuation, run-ons and fragments... This past year, I've focused on what my students need to know (State Standards) and what they do and do not know (based on their writing).

I've pulled various completed papers of my students (without identifying them) and written sentences on the overhead. After explaining the purpose of the language practice (no more than two corrections regarding spelling pattern, punctuation, sentence structure, etc.), I would let the students know that I've noticed many papers with the same challenges. The students are required to write the sentences correctly in their Literacy binders, and then I randomly choose students to come to the overhead to make corrections.

I will also use sentences from the reading texts (including science and history) to provide more consistency. Sometimes students will choose a challenging sentence from their reading, re-write it, leaving out the puctuation. Then, they exchange papers and make the necessary corrections. My students really like this activity.

My students have shown tremendous growth by these daily language activities, because there is a clear purpose set. My students don't consider this as "busy work." I think it's important to use this time to supplement more explicit instruction in word work. In addition to considering the research of others, we need to be our own action researcher to see what works for our students.


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uncaring students
Posted by: gina

Have you heard of a game called KABOOM!? Here are the instructions for creating it (the example is for kinds of sentences, but you could easily adapt it to parts of speech, etc.)

First make your game pieces - long narrow strips of tagboard or any other heavier paper - with the skills you want to work on. For example, for the 4 types of sentences, write sentences of each type, one per slip, but without the punctuation. Also make six or eight strips with "KABOOM!!!" written on them. Put them all into a container - I used a one pound coffee can that I had decorated with KABOOM and some bombs going off!

To play the game - divide your class into groups - I used rows as that is how the classroom is set up. Starting with the first student in each group/row -BUT ONE STUDENT AT A TIME, NOT ALL 1ST STUDENTS AT THE SAME TIME - have them come up and pick a paper. They read the sentence and decide (give a few seconds) which type of sentence it is. If correct, they keep it, if incorrect it goes back into the container. Once all the first of the row students have had a turn, then each of the second students in the row get a chance.

The idea is for the rows/groups to collect as many strips as they can. The catch is that if someone picks a KABOOM strip, the entire row gives up their accumulated strips. I couldn't believe how often the class asked to play this simple drill!

Once everyone is familiar with the procedure, it can go quite fast.

Hope it works well for you. Please let me know if you try it.

Posted by: pj

I understand where you're coming from on the correcting/editing papers. First I tell my class that there are some givens to writing in 3rd grade. By now all papers should be turned in with capital letters at the beginning of the sentences and ending punctuation. YOu can add anything else as a given that you want. Then when these bare minimums are not done I give it back and say you didn't do the minimum. I make a poster on a laminated poster size piece of writing paper. I use a vis-a-vis to mark the current givens so when I give the paper back I say check the given board.

Then on future papers I have Focus Correction Areas (FCA). Let's say you just taught contraction. You could make it a FCA along with the givens. I'd say when you hand in your paper I'll be looking for the givens and the FCA of contractions. I wouldn't edit for anything else. Obviously as the year progresses your givens would also.

I use picture prompts to write from. Also I may read a story and not the ending...they need to do the ending. I use daily journals for writing, too. Our district curriculium also has benchmarks for writing so I incorporate those. One is How to papers, you know how to make a sandwich or how to tie your shoes. We also require friendly letters in 3rd.

Hope this helps

5 Star Sentences
Posted by: Debbie

To practice sentence writing, I have my kids write a daily sentence that I call a 5 star sentence. I put together a skinny packet for each student each week. The cover says "Be a 5 Star Writer" and has a place for their name. The other 5 pages each have a blank line for the students to write there sentence with 5 stars above the line reminding them what 5 points I'll be looking for. The five stars stand for Capitalization, Punctuation, Letter Formation, Spaces, and Spelling. I dictate a sentence to them daily. When I grade them I put a star inside each star that they completed. For instance, say a student had a capital at the beginning of the sentence, a period at the end, it was written neatly and letters were formed right, proper spacing was displayed, and all words were spelled right then he/she would get all five stars. I do give a 1/2 of star if maybe one word is mispelled or some letters are made backwards etc. I have found this very helpful and my kids seem to like it to. Hope this helps!

Re: 5 star sentence
Posted by: kidsrme11

I also recently posted about the 5 star sentences. I wonder if we went to the same seminar? I don't know about folding a paper, but I do use the concept. I put 5 stars on the wall (from the party store) and have them labeled with "Capital, Spaces, Handwriting, Spelling, and Punctuation)
Then I have paper with the same format at the top. Lines are below for their sentence. They are supposed to color in the stars when they have checked their sentence for that component.
As the year progresses we constantly talk about the 5 stars ("Oh, that's a good four star sentence." is all I have to say to get them to think about that period that somehow never makes it to the end!)
I even added the stars to our spelling dictation sentences and we post the papers with 5 stars on our Star board.
I also shrink the stars down and put them on homework papers and various writing paper. It's fun for the kids and it's a great way to reinforces self-editing.
I am attaching the large version of what I do. It's not perfect and I'm sure there is an easier way to do it, but this is what I have for now. I was thinking of getting a stamp with 5 stars on it, but haven't figured out how to do that yet.

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7-up Sentences
Posted by: Kate

These extended/perfect sentences come from Wilda Storm's Writing Program. I'll try to give you a brief description. You start by telling students that from now on every sentence they write must have at least 7 words in it and be perfect. Then you pair students and give them a boring, short sentence like: The snake moved. The pairs add adjectives, prepositional phrases, and replace boring verbs to make a new sentence with 7 words or more. Ex. The striped, poisonous cobra slithered through the tall grass. They write it on the bottom of a large piece of white construction paper and draw a picture above it that matches the sentence. The next day, the teacher puts their papers up on the board and the class evaluates each sentence using a checklist like:
Correct Spelling
Correct Capitalization
Correct Punctuation
7 Words or More
Interesting Vocabulary
We put a star on the paper for each item that is correct. The pairs put their names on the back of the paper so no one is embarrassed. Do this several times and then have students do it independently and exchange papers for evaluation.

sentence writing
Posted by: gail.miller

I teach first grade and every time I have my students write sentences I have them put the word CUPS in the margin at the top of the paper. They are to check each sentence they write by using this key: C (capitals,sentence beginning, names, and the word I) U (understanding, does it make sense?) P ( punctuation .?!) S (correct spelling of phonic and word wall words).This helps my students when they are writing unrelated sentences. But when we write stories, they don't seem to have the ability to understand where to put the capitals and endings.We do a lot of sentence writings so I can get an English/Grammar grade. To show them their errors, I too write CUPS on the bottom of the paper and then put tally marks under each letter when a mistake is made. This seems to help them see what they need to remember to watch out for as they write. I hope this makes sense and is useful to someone. Happy holidays to all!

Posted by: Mary

I know that it is not a quick fix,(I've come to the conclusion that there isn't one)but you just have to be persistent and consistent in all subject areas. I correct for punctuation and capitals in all subject areas. It is frustrating, but I think it's just one of those things where you just have to "out stubborn" them. I also have grammar workbook and sheets that I use, as well as guided reading direction. Some kids get it and some don't. I've even had kids stay in and write lines if I find a certain amount of simple errors in their writing. This has been successful with some, but it's not something I like to do. I used to teach grade 6 and had the same problem. Good luck to your friend.