In reading workshop I just taught the lesson “readers notice punctuation marks.” My kids really enjoy this, and they do a wonderful job finding punctuation in their books. However, it is a little trickier to get them to use punctuation to make their reading fluent. Of course, practice is the best way…
Here is one of my favorite ways to sneak in a little punctuation practice in a fun way. In my class we “read” the alphabet all year. We read each letter by saying its name, the sound it makes, and the corresponding word on our alphabet chart. This is wonderful for helping kids learn letter sounds, and the daily repetition is very important for the strugglers.
After a while I start doing some things to keep it fresh. For example, we may read the alphabet backwards, or all mixed up. This really requires kids to attend to the letters, as they are so used to the standard way of saying the alphabet. In order to facilitate this, I always have my alphabet set up as individual letter cards. That way I can rearrange them at well. If you are interested in the alphabet I use, you can get it here. I also have a free anchor chart available that goes along with my alphabet. You can download it as well if you like!
Cue the punctuation… I also have small magnetic punctuation mark cards. Once we have discussed how readers notice punctuation marks, I sneakily put the punctuation marks into the alphabet. Then I challenge the kids to read the alphabet, but also attend to the punctuation. They have to stop when they get to a period, pause at a comma, use an excited voice for the letter before the exclamation mark, use a questioning voice for the letter before the question mark, and use a silly voice for the letters between the quotation marks. The kids LOVE this. They especially love the quotation marks. I choose a different “silly voice” each day, which keeps it interesting.
The best part is that I change the positioning of the punctuation marks daily. That way the kids really need to notice which mark is where, and consider what that means in terms of how they should read. It is a fun, simple challenge that really helps them to practice those punctuation marks. And of course, that makes it that much more natural for them in books!
Do you have any special tricks for teaching punctuation marks and how to use them as readers?