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Explaining where to put a period


Full Member
This may sound like a silly question, but how do you explain to first graders where to put a period in their writing. I'm a new teacher using Calkins UOS. My kids are doing great, but even my high students never use periods in their writing. They don't really know subject/verb yet, so how do I begin to explain where the period goes?


Senior Member

Two methods that HELP--but really don't FIX punctuation for all students are:

  • Model. During shared writing and interactive writing--model correct capitalization and punctuation.
  • Have the student read their writing aloud. Just listening to what the sentence is supposed to say helps.
However, this is a very difficult skill for first graders.


Full Member

This isn't a "fix" but some things that I do that seem to help are:
1- Read Big Books and have the children "notice" the punctuation marks in the story and how your voice changes as you read.
2- I make a chart with the children as to the punctuation marks they noticed and what their definition is. (ex. a period is when you stop your thought. It is a long stop. a comma is a short stop but you keep on reading, a question mark is when you want someone to answer you, ... means a surprise is coming, etc.)
3- Sometimes I even type up the text of stories so each child gets a copy as I read. Again they "notice" the punctuation, sometimes circling the periods as I read.
4- I also write a story without punctuation and read it that way. Then the children come up to fix my story. The put the periods where they think they should go. I read the story exactly as they fixed it and we work as a class to "hear" the story the right way, changing what doesn't sound right.

The best thing, though, is to keep modeling correct punctuation.

Not all children will get it right away, but they will start trying it. There are also some wonderful books to use to highlight different punctuation marks that you want the students to use.
Hope this helps


Senior Member

Periods are difficult for first graders. As PP said, modeling is the key. I explain that the period is like a stop sign. The sentence keeps running and running until it sees a stop sign. Or I read sentences without taking a breath. The students soon realize that periods are needed in places where you need to take a breath. That does not mean that they will be able to do it independently every time. This is an ongoing process, and at the end of the year about 3/4 of my students use periods consistently.


Senior Member
catchy phrase

I have a poster that says, "whenever you come to the end of a thought, you sign it with a polka dot." every time we use a period, i say, "now what goes here? that's right, because, whenever you come..." the kids really caught on quickly.