Learning about punctuation, including the exclamation mark, is an emergent literacy skill. Although all children might not have mastery of the skills taught, they can be introduced to the names of the punctuation marks and the functions that they have in the text. This is one of the first lessons that I teach about punctuation.
To begin the lesson, I tell the class that I have part of a book that I want to read to them. I read the passage in flat voice, ignoring any punctuation and then ask the children what they think of my reading. They will most likely be quick to tell me that it sounded boring or all the words ran together and was hard to understand. I agree with them and tell them that I have been hearing some reading that sounds like that in class sometimes. I explain that our objective is to identify the proper placement of punctuation, and to share the importance of punctuation in reading, I tell the children that I am going to read a new book, called Exclamation Mark.
Boys and girls, come join me at the rug. I have a book that I am so excited to read to you! (I read the story in a flat voice.) What did you think? Was it as exciting as I made it out to be? Would you like it if I read all stories like that? Sometimes I hear children in our class reading like that. If you learn how to recognize punctuation marks and how they work, you will learn to change your voice to show more expression as you read. Today, I am going to share a new book with you, Exclamation Mark.
As you listen to this story, see if you notice how my voice changes.
I will read the story, once for enjoyment and a second time to have the children search for punctuation marks. I feel that it is important for my students to enjoy the literature that I read to them. I use books as tools to teach my lessons, but if I want my students to learn to love reading, then I have to take the time out of my day to read the story for the sheer joy of hearing a story. I know, too, that repetition builds better comprehension, so the reasoning is two-fold.
As I read Exclamation Mark to you this second time, take particular note of when Question Mark comes on the scene. Notice all the asking sentences on the page. Do you see the change as Exclamation Mark meets his new friend?
Prior to teaching the lesson, I write three or four of Question Mark's sentences on chart paper along with three or four of Exclamation Mark's statements. I think it helps the children get a better understanding of the punctuation when they see you write out the marks, so we read these sentences and decide which of the punctuation marks best fit each sentence.
Let's take a look at the sentences on our board. These are sentences that came from the book. Each sentence needs a punctuation mark at the end of it, but because they are mixed up from the story, we will have to listen carefully and decide what symbol to write. Read with me. "This is fun_" What do you think we should mark here? Exclamation Mark, right. Here's the next one: "Do you like frogs__" What goes here? Question mark. (We continue to read through each sentence and mark the punctuation.)
As a review, I have some simple sentence on strips. We will talk about and mark the sentences with the correct punctuation. Then the children will have a chance to make their own punctuation marks on a worksheet. The reason I have chosen this activity is because the sentences are made up of the basic sight words that my students have been taught. In a quick activity, I can see if the children have a basic understanding of the concept of punctuation.
Before I send you back to your seats to work, let's practice a few more sentences here on the board. We will read the sentences together. Then I will look for someone to write the correct punctuation mark on the line.
I can run __ Is it gym time __ We are late __
Now that we have had some practice, you are going to show me what you have learned. On this worksheet, there are three sentences. If you do not know the words, what can you do? You can try to sound it out. You can ask a friend for help. You can ask an adult. Once you read the sentence, you need to figure out what punctuation mark goes onto the line. Read it again after you write to see if it sounds right.
The worksheet will have three simple sentences to mark:
1. Is it a bear__
2. Help, I see a bear__
3. I like bears__
While you are working, I will be walking around to see how you are responding to this assignment. It is important, if you get stuck, to get help.