See if you can help your child get the most solid grasp possible of periods, question marks, commas and exclamation points—the four most common punctuation marks in all our sentences.
As kids get introduced to the wonders of punctuation, they will be expected to start using it, too! Kids will practice starting each sentence with a capital letter and finishing it with either a period, question mark or exclamation point. They'll also use commas now and then. At the end of the year, they may start work on quotation marks…but that will be covered much more heavily in later grades.
Here's a silly game you can play the next time you read aloud.
What You Need:
- Transparent “highlighting tape”—available at teacher supply stores.
- Pad of paper and pencil
- Readaloud book that you and your child like and have read once before
What You Do:
- First, get familiar with “highlighting tape.” This is a great resource for anyone, not just teachers, but you’ll probably need to find it at a teacher supply store. Available in yellow, green, and sometimes other colors like orange and pink, the tape fits over letters and words in a text, and allows you to see through to them. When you're done, the tape pulls off like an ordinary post-it.
- Take out a book that you and your child enjoy, and invite her to be a “punctuation spy.” Together, go sentence by sentence to highlight how it ends. If you've got an eager reader, go ahead and highlight commas, too. Finally, if you've been able to find different colors of tape, it's wonderful to color code them.
- Before you read the book, review the rules with your child: when you read aloud, you drop your voice to note a period at the end of a sentence; raise it for a question; emphasize for an exclamation, and pause for a comma.
- Now it's time for some fun. Have your second grader watch the page carefully as you read, and don't hesitate to move your finger on the page as you go if it helps. You read aloud…but make some deliberate mistakes! For a sentence that ends in a period, try making it sound like a question…and let your second grader pounce. In fact, try putting a scorecard in his hand. Every time he corrects you, give him a point. Score of seven wins the round!
- This game should bring lots of laughter, and some good learning, too. To finish it off, though, do go back and read the whole book through correctly, so that the last memory of its punctuation is accurate. You can still involve your punctuation detective: as you reach each one, you can have him peel off the highlighter tape. He'll have a fat handful at the end of the book—a satisfying reminder of how much he really does know.
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.