Lesson plan

Construct and Deconstruct Contractions

There is great wonder in building things and taking them apart. Use this grammar lesson with your students to teach them how to construct and deconstruct contractions while correctly using an apostrophe.
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Students will be able to form and break apart contractions.

(2 minutes)
  • Prompt students to brainstorm ways in which we shorten words and phrases as we are talking and writing. Collect student answers and confirm or adjust. Possible answers may include text message language, abbreviations, nicknames, and contractions.
  • Tell students that one of the most common ways we shorten words is to use contractions. Today’s lesson will teach how to form and break apart contractions.
(8 minutes)
  • Explain that a contraction is when two words are joined and one or more letters are removed and replaced with an apostrophe. An apostrophe is the punctuation mark used to show that letters are missing. Contractions are formed with the verbs do, be, and have.
  • Read aloud a book about contractions, such as I’m and Won’t, They’re and Don’t: What’s a Contraction? by Brian Cleary.
  • Display examples of contractions, explaining how they are formed with an apostrophe. Say, "The book uses the contraction I’m. To see how the contraction is formed, break it apart. The subject is I and the verb is am. When the words are joined, it is Iam. Eliminate the letter a by crossing it out, and replace it with an apostrophe. It becomes the contraction I’m."
  • Repeat the think aloud process with contractions and phrases, such as don’t, will not, she’ll, we have, and let us. Be sure to write the words on the board, model joining the words, and show how to eliminate the correct letter or letters. Remind students that the contraction is not complete without the apostrophe.
(7 minutes)
  • Divide students into groups of three to four students and give each group a sheet of construction paper and a marker.
  • Instruct groups to use the process modeled by the teacher to explore how contractions are formed. Assign each group different contractions. For example:
    • Group 1: they’ve, hadn’t, should have, it is
    • Group 2: aren’t, wasn’t, could not, he is
    • Group 3: doesn’t, they’re, she is, have not
    • Group 4: we’ll, they’d, we have, I would
  • Have groups present their processes for forming or breaking apart contractions. Encourage each student in the group to present at least one of the contractions.
(8 minutes)
  • Distribute a copy of the Creating Contractions Part 1 worksheet to each student. Instruct students to either form or break apart contractions.


  • Support struggling students by giving them additional practice with the Apostrophes in Contractions 1 Exercise.
  • Provide a word bank to use on the Creating Contractions Part 1 worksheet.
  • Intentionally group students based on academic and behavioral needs for the Guided Practice activity.


  • Challenge students to brainstorm a list of contractions. Have them write a story in which they use each contraction one time. Remind them to circle or highlight the contraction in the story.
  • Use the Apostrophes in Contractions 2 Exercise with advanced students to look at contractions in context.
(2 minutes)
  • Use Creating Contractions Part 1 as a formative assessment of students’ understanding of contractions.
  • Give each student an index card for the Exit Ticket and tell them that they will read a sentence and find the two words that create a contraction. On the index card, they should write the two words and the contraction they form. Display the following sentence: "They have earned first place in the city!”
(3 minutes)
  • Call on a nonvolunteer to explain the process of forming a contraction from two words. Then call on another student to repeat or rephrase.
  • Call on a nonvolunteer to explain the process for breaking apart a contraction into two words. Then call on another student to repeat or rephrase.
  • Remind students that we use contractions in conversation and in informal writing, and challenge them to identify contractions in their independent reading books to see how authors use them in context.

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