During October, Fire Safety Month, we do several activities to teach safety rules around fire. One of my favorite lessons integrates, reading, social studies and writing. When we teach about fire safety, the children become so expressive. It is here that I teach the children about the exclamation mark. I start by reading Clifford the Firehouse Dog aloud to the class.
Boys and girls, please come join me at the rug. I want to discuss why it is important for us to know what to do in case of a fire emergency. What does it mean when something is an emergency? What do our voices sound like when we are telling someone about an emergency? We usually sound excited, don't we? We are going to be talking more about that in a little bit, but for right now, I would like to share a story with you about one of our favorite characters--who is big and red with a waggily tail? That's right; it's Clifford! Today's story is Clifford, the Firehouse Dog by Norman Bridwell. Let's hear what adventures Clifford experiences in this story.
The teacher will need to prepare four or five felt flames to adhere to a child's clothing prior to the lesson. I find that giving students "real life" experiences builds the knowledge needed in future lessons. These types of lessons keeps the students engaged in the learning, and having an understanding of the punctuation mark will help them with their reading later on.
Children, when we are letting someone know that there is an emergency, we often raise our voices and speak at a higher pitch. When we write stories, we let the reader know that we are excited by using exclamation marks as an indicator of our excitement. An exclamation mark looks a little like an upside down lowercase i. If I wanted to tell someone that their clothes were on fire, would I usually use a calm, quiet voice? No, generally my voice would be elevated, and I would probably shout. "Your clothes are on fire!"
I write this sentence on the board so that the children can see how I marked this sentence. Do you see how I marked this sentence? I wrote out all of the words, but at the end I wrote an exclamation mark because I wanted the reader to know that I am excited or alarmed.
I also write out the words: Stop! Drop! Roll! Why do you think I would put exclamation marks after these words? (I take all answers at this point). If someone's clothes had caught fire, we would tell them to Stop! Drop! Roll! We use the exclamation mark because it is urgent to help someone in this situation right away. Who would like to help me demonstrate how urgent this would be?
I underline the exclamation points to indicate the urgency in the situation. Then I ask for a volunteer so that I can have them help me demonstrate the emergency of a situation like this. On the clothing of my volunteer, I adhere the "fake flames" to his clothing. I tell the child to Stop! Drop to the floor and begin to roll around until all of the "flames" have been extinguished and are off the volunteer's clothing. I let approximately three students try this and let them know that these "flames" will be at a center today.
Oh, dear! Your clothing has caught on fire! What should we do? We should, Stop! Drop to the floor and roll until all the flames are out!
When you write sentences and you want people to know that it is exciting, dangerous, or urgent, you would end your sentence with an exclamation mark. Let's listen to how that sounds for a minute. I will tell you a sentence, listen to how it sounds if I use a period: "Let's go home."
Now listen to what the same sentence sounds like when you use an exclamation mark at the end. "Let's go home!" Do you here the difference? Let's try another one. "It's a puppy." or "It's a puppy!" I am going to teach you how to sign the term, exclamation mark, in sign language. When I tell you a sentence, and you think it has an exclamation mark in it, you are going to "sky write" a straight line down with a point under it. Ready, let's try. "Help me!" "This movie is long." "The dog ate my shoe!" "I think I saw an alien!" "We are eating chicken nuggets."
For the assessment, the children will receive a worksheet that has pictures that talk about Stop! Drop! Roll! The children will color the pictures, write an exclamation mark after each word, cut our the pictures and glue them to a sentence strip. The children will take these projects home.
Now that you have practiced Stop! Drop! and Roll! and you have learned about exclamation marks, you are ready to show me what you have learned. Each of you will get a paper that has three pictures on it, but they are not in the right order for stop, drop and roll. You will need to cut them out, sequence them in the correct order and then glues them to a strip of paper. After each word, I want you to write an exclamation mark so that the reader knows we are emphasizing those words.
I will check over the pages as the children finish to look for any errors and assess if we need to reteach any of the material.