English - Punctuation with a kick

25th November 2011 at 00:00

What's it about?

For English lessons that pack a punch, try kung fu punctuation, writes Steve Eddison. Stretching out my arms and raising a knee, I assume the stance of a predatory flamingo.

With an oriental accent, I say: "Capital T. The fierce dragon . Aaii yah!" and aim a curved karate chop through the air. "Comma! Dressed in his scaly armour . Aaii yah!" I aim another viciously-curved chop.

"Comma! Breathes his fiery breath upon the people . Aaii huh!" - a punch to an imaginary midriff. "Full stop." Each seven-year-old ninja in front of me mimics my every action and word.

"Who wants to lead us in punctuating the next sentence?" I ask. This is an easy way to get children - especially those unaware of the consequences of one misplaced comma in a description of the eating habits of a giant panda - to understand and use punctuation.

The marks and squiggles become instantly child-friendly if you link each punctuation symbol to a karate-style move. For example, my class uses the predatory flamingo to indicate a capital letter and the furious dragon (a low punch) for a full stop.

Giving each move a kung fu-style name makes it fun. Getting pupils to use the right punctuation in the right place is the challenge. So explain that, in Chinese, kung fu refers to any skill learnt through hard work. Once the basics are mastered, write an unmarked sentence on the board and . Aaii yah! Start punctuating.

Where to go

Try kung fu punctuation with worktop04's PowerPoint in TES Resources. And a resource on writing from Caroline.a.moore.

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