Lesson plan

Who’s the Owner?

Help your students own possessives! With this lesson your students will no longer ponder the placement of apostrophes in possessives. They’ll be able to place apostrophes perfectly!
Grade Subject View aligned standards
  • Students will be able to use apostrophes and construct possessives.
  • Students will be able to differentiate between various possessive forms and determine how to use apostrophes in a variety of cases.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask the students to discuss the word possession with a partner. What is a possession? Guide the students in defining the word and recognizing that a possession is something owned. The person who owns it is the owner.
  • Introduce the related word possessive.
  • Tell the students that when we write, sometimes we use an apostrophe to create a possessive. Using a possessive helps to name the owner.
  • Explain to the students that they will be learning how to write using possessives.
(10 minutes)
  • Explain that the owner of something determines the possessive and how an apostrophe is used to show a possessive. Sometimes this might be one person, or other times it might be more than one person.
  • Write a single name on an index card or sentence strip with an s, but without the apostrophe (such as Jessicas).
  • Give the students a brief example of context by creating a quick sketch on a piece of paper. (For example, you could create a quick sketch of the following: Jessica’s car had a flat tire on the side of the road.)
  • Using a different colored marker, show the students how you can use an apostrophe to create a possessive. Point out that the apostrophe goes before the s.
  • Place the paper and word card in a location where students can reference it later.
  • Continue with an explanation of how to use an apostrophe in a plural example, creating a new word card and illustration. (For example, you could use the following: The kittens’ mother stood close by, watching them play.)
  • Tell the students that sometimes when we write a possessive, it doesn’t follow either rule. If a singular word ends in an s it may not be plural but we place the apostrophe after the s. Some collective nouns will have an apostrophe before the s.
  • Give an example of each use of an apostrophe.
(20 minutes)
  • Divide students into small groups.
  • Distribute several pieces of paper, index cards, macaroni, and markers to each group.
  • Tell the students that they can use the macaroni to represent the apostrophe in the words they create.
  • Challenge the students to work together to create several examples (including a picture and word card) that fit each type of possessive.
  • Give the students about 15 minutes to work and rotate around the room to assist students as needed.
  • Once students have finished, give all groups an opportunity to share their work.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask the students to complete the worksheet Place that Apostrophe! Singular and Plural Possessives.
  • Circulate around the room and give the students additional guidance as needed.


  • Teach more complex examples, such as words that end in s, but are not plural.
  • Challenge students to develop an explanation or visual that represents concepts of constructing possessive forms of words.


  • For students who need extra practice transferring concepts of ownership into possessive form, ask them to complete the Possessive Nouns: Whose Is It? worksheet.
  • Use an interactive whiteboard and special colors, or patterns from the writing pen, to designate the location of apostrophes in possessives.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask the students to write a journal entry (or an exit card) explaining how they know how to create specific possessives. Ask the students to write several examples of possessives and to use the possessives in context.
(5 minutes)
  • Write several examples of correct and incorrect uses of possessives.
  • Ask students to give a signal (such as thumbs up/thumbs down) specifying if the uses are correct.
  • Lead the students in a final class discussion to summarize the use of possessives.

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