Full stop ahoy

25th January 2008 at 00:00

Ages 8 to 11

A fun way to draw pupils' attention to punctuation is to use a class reader and replace punctuation with phrases linked to the text.

Ask pupils to think of key phrases that conjure up the book, for example, a Treasure Island-esque pirate story, "ar-arrr", "land ahoy", "walk the plank" or "pieces of eight".

Think of the main punctuation marks and try to allocate an appropriate phrase to each. A brief pause with a comma might be "ar-arrr", an exclamation mark might be "walk the plank" and arriving at your destination with a full stop "land ahoy".

To see how this looks on the page, use the trusty favourite of reading around the class, changing reader after each punctuation mark. However, as anyone reaches a punctuation mark they call out its related phrase, before the next reader takes over.

The result is a fun, frantic, surround-sound experience. Pupils felt it helped make sense of the functions of the "squiggles on the page". The problem is the novelty doesn't wear off quickly enough.

Chris Bond teaches English at Warwick School in Warwickshire.

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