It always amazes me how people can remember to wear shoes, eat regular meals, and remember the time and channel of TV shows, but they forget about capitalization and punctuation when writing. After reading a whole paragraph with little to no punctuation, I often question the author about what happened. The usual response is, “I forgot.” What amazes me is that the same person can give me a detailed list of the the times and channels that Sponge Bob is on daily. So my question is, how can we make writers remember punctuation as well as they remember when Sponge Bob is on each day?
When my students start to slip a little, I like to reel them back in with some high quality children’s literature because I do LOVE a good picture book! My favorite picture book is Eats, Shoots, and Leaves Why Commas Really Do Make a Difference! It was written by Lynne Truss and it is the picture book version of the adult Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. It is full of hilarious examples like a picture of a gas station and the sentence “Eat here, and get gas.” On the next page is a picture of a restaurant and it says, “Eat here and get gas.” That one is a favorite with my students and it really drives home the point about commas. My other favorites are Punctuation Takes a Vacation by Robin Pulver. This is a hilarious tale of a classroom where punctuation goes on vacation and the mishaps that occur without punctuation!
While my students love these books, sometimes I need a little more and that is when the super heroes of Punctuation Power help out! I remind them of each super hero and the punctuation job of the super hero before we write.
The bulletin board pictures are from my Punctuation Power Pack in my TpT store and the giant punctuation is made from dollar store items (pool noodles, diving toys with wire inside, sponge balls, cotton balls, etc.).
After my students write a piece I have them leave it on their desks when they go to lunch or special area classes. I place a Skittle on each correct punctuation mark (and I usually put one or two one if they indent a paragraph). As you can see the paper on the left has far more Skittles and the paper on the right only got two Skittles (due to having only 2 punctuation marks). Let me tell you, Skittles are the great motivator!
Then I write the message below on the board.
We wanted to leave everyone lots of Skittles,
but on some of your papers there wasn’t room! Please remember
to use proper punctuation so we can leave you all lots of Skittles when
we come back next time!
The Heroes of Punctuation Power
As you can imagine this is highly motivating. Since my students NEVER know when Punctuation Power super heroes will visit, they try really hard to use punctuation every time we write!