Punctuation and expression is a early writing skill. These skills are also fundamental building blocks for their language development.
The use of punctuation marks not only aids in effective communication but also contributes to conveying different emotions and expressions within sentences.
Let’s talk about methods and strategies for teaching punctuation and expression to young learners, including the use of a writing rubric and the importance of prosody and intonation.
One of the best ways to teach kindergartners any skill is to sing about it.
This simple song is to the tune of Frere Jacques.
End the sentence [end the sentence].
Add a stop [add a stop].
Period, Exclamation [period, exclamation]
Question Mark. [question mark]
Kindergarten students are at an age when they are beginning to grasp the concept of letters, words, and sentences.
Introducing them to basic punctuation marks like periods, exclamation marks, and question marks can be both fun and educational.
PERIOD The period is like a gentle stop sign in a sentence. It tells the reader to pause and take a breath.
Kindergarten students can be taught that a period is used at the end of a statement or a simple sentence.
For example, “I have a red ball.”
QUESTION MARKS Question marks are used at the end of sentences that ask a question. These types of sentences are all about curiosity. Kindergarteners can practice asking questions with sentences like, “Can I have a cookie?”
EXCLAMATION MARKS Exclamation marks are used to express excitement, surprise, or strong emotions.
You can engage the students by having them practice sentences with exclamation marks.
An example is “Wow, I love ice cream!”
PUNCTUATION, PROSODY, AND INTONATION
In addition to teaching the meaning and usage of punctuation marks, it’s crucial to emphasize the role of prosody and intonation.
Prosody is the rhythm and pattern of sounds in spoken language, while intonation relates to the rise and fall of pitch in speech.
For example, by varying their prosody and intonation, kindergarten students can convey different emotions:
Statement: Use a steady voice with pauses at periods to indicate a regular statement.
Curiosity: Raise their voices at the end of a sentence with a question mark.
Excitement: Raise their voices with a smile for exclamation marks.
Using the exercises in the pictures, students can practice whole group and small group exercises with punctuation, using prosody and intonation.
In the large poster at the top, display an 8.5 x 11 poster on an interactive board or under a document camera. Students will read the sentences with expression.
“Run to the car.” can mean it’s time to go. It’s a statement.
“Run to the car?” can mean you are asking a question. Why would we run to the car?
“Run to the car!” can mean it’s an excitement or emergency situation. “Run to the car! We have to go quickly.” Read and play it as a game…letting the students act out the different scenarios.
With the smaller clip cards, students will determine what end marks would be appropriate. This is a tricky one because you need to ask them to explain their answer if it isn’t the answer you would choose. They often have reasons.
PUnctuation and the big 3
When using the BIG 3 Rubric, students recognize the importance of punctuation.
Students use the rubric to make sure their sentences have capitals at the beginning, spaces in the middle, and punctuation at the end.
Practicing with the BIG 3 automatically creates an importance with end marks.
Check out a blog post about the Big 3 here.
To further support this crucial learning process, teachers and educators can explore valuable resources such as my Punctuation and Expression Practice Set, designed for both whole-group and small-group practices.
This resource kit provides a structured and engaging way to reinforce punctuation skills, understand the nuances of expression, and foster effective communication.