Teaching Grammar and Punctuation Skills

Teaching resources - Teaching grammar and punctuation skills

Teaching Grammar and Punctuation Skills in Your Classroom

Grammar and punctuation skills are essential in your classroom writing program. Your students need to be using parts of speech correctly, developing figurative language, extending their use of sentence structure, using punctuation accurately, and further learning how words work.

However, while we know the importance of teaching grammar and punctuation skills, it isn’t always easy to know how to cover them. It can be a tricky task to find the time to teach the many literacy skills effectively. I believe the following two steps can help:

  • Step One: Introduce Grammar and Punctuation Skills
  • Step Two: Focus on the Retention of Grammar and Punctuation Skills

Keep reading to gain some great practical tips and ideas for how to teach, and help your students retain, the skills of writing in your classroom. I recently took a deep dive into Pinterest to search for the best practical ideas for teaching grammar and punctuation skills. Below are the highlights of my grammar and punctuation activities hunt. Click here to see our Grammar and Punctuation Pinterest board.

Step One: Introduce Grammar and Punctuation Skills

Running a Figurative Language Vocabulary Hunt

Teaching Literacy Skills 1

This great idea from Cup of Teaching is a fun way to identify different examples of figurative language. I would use this during shared reading so that it doubles as a listening skills activity. This could also be used to identify parts of speech.

Play the Bag Game to Learn Parts of Speech

Teaching Literacy Skills

Education.com has an interactive game to help kids get practical experience using parts of speech in a sentence and remember the differences between them. This would be a great activity for a relief teacher/substitute teacher to have in their resource kit.

Get to Know Students Using Similes

Teaching Literacy Skills

Similes are a great way to describe people, so they are a handy tool when getting to know your students. Use this activity by Finn Funn to incorporate similes into your back to school lesson plans!

Design and Demonstrate a Plurals Robot

Teaching Literacy Skills - Literacy Resources

I love this idea by Here’s an Idea By Lucys of a plurals robot so much! This is such a clear way of demonstrating various plural rules. The same concept could also be used for adding suffixes or prefixes.

Step Two: Focus on the Retention of These Skills

Have you noticed that while skills such as using similes and metaphors seem to be taught across all primary school levels, often students will reach upper primary without a grasp of how to use this poetic feature in their writing? It is time to look at how we teach these skills.
One key issue that we face as a teacher is how to find time to effectively teach the vast range of grammar and punctuation skills. To illustrate my point, let’s look at just some of the skills that need to be taught in Year 3-4 classrooms:
  • Nouns, Verbs, Pronouns, Verb Tenses, Adjectives, Proper nouns, Conjunctions, Prepositions, Precise Verbs
  • Simple Sentences, Compound Sentences, Complex Sentences, Sentence Openers, Sentence Punctuation
    Full stops, Capital Letters, Commas for lists, Speech Marks, Question Marks, Exclamation Marks
  • Synonyms, Antonyms, Similes, Thesaurus Skills, Alliteration, Onomatopoeia
  • Consonants and Vowels, Plural Rules, Prefixes, Suffixes, Syllables

Retention of Grammar and Punctuation Skills is Key

If we rely on mini-lessons to highlight each of these skills individually, it would take most of the year to briefly touch on each skill. You can see why we find ourselves in the position of needing to reteach the same skills year after year. The fact is, in many classrooms, the fundamental skills of grammar and punctuation are not being retained by our students. The focus on retention of skills, therefore, is key!

Studies show that to retain information in your long term memory, repeating and reinforcement of the information is a necessity.  As Ron White explains,

New connections (synapses) are made between your brain cells (neurons) when you learn new things. You are building up your short-term memory in order for the information to be retained and passed along to your long-term memory — where it is kept in a special place so it easier to pull back when you need it.

If we want our students to authentically understand and gain grammar and punctuation skills, they need regular and repeated reinforcement that builds on and extends their knowledge while keeping them engaged!

Our Grammar and Punctuation Skills Resources

Teaching Literacy Skills - Distance learning resources for teachers

I know how hard it is to find the time to teach all areas of the literacy and language curriculum. I was forever looking for a resource that would cover the integral surface and deep feature writing skills of grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, spelling, and vocabulary. This led to the creation of the Grammar and Punctuation Skills Activity Pack; a full year of activities to cover the teaching of grammar and punctuation skills in an easy, structured, cover-your-bases system.

Importantly, these resources:

  • Cover a wide range of grammar and punctuation skills
  • Begin with simple skills and gradually increase in complexity
  • Help students to retain their skills through reinforcement and repetition

This system is closely tied to the New Zealand Curriculum and will help you to prepare your students to meet the requirements of the NZ Writing Standards and Literacy Progressions for Year 5 and 6. It also links to the Australian National Literacy Progressions for Writing (Grammar and Punctuation).

The Grammar and Punctuation Skills activity packs:

  • Include 40 activity sheets that cover punctuation, parts of speech, sentence structure, word work and figurative language. There are enough activity sheets for one per week.
  • Are designed to work in partnership with your own teaching of these skills, either in whole class or small group settings.
  • Feature definitions, rules and examples to help “jog” the students’ memory.
  • Have assessment tasks to check for understanding.
  • Include A4 posters with some KEY definitions and rules for writing.
    • These are designed to be glued inside the front cover of an exercise book or to be laminated for quick access by your students.

You can read more about our Grammar and Punctuation Skills packs here.

Using our Grammar and Punctuation Skills Resources in Your Classroom

Grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, spelling and figurative language

These packs are definitely set up for flexible use. Some teachers give out one activity sheet per week, while others combine two activity sheets in A5 size. You could use this with a small group or as an independent activity.

Suggested Use:

  • Glue the mini rules and definition posters into the front cover of students’ exercise books. You could also laminate these for easy access.
  • Choose if you will use the black and white or coloured activity sheets.
  • Hand out the activity sheet and talk through the skills as a class (this could also be done during their writing group time or guided reading group time).
  • Students glue the activity sheet into their exercise book or place it in their clear file.
  • Students complete the activity sheet during their literacy time, as an early finisher activity, for homework or whenever it suits you – the choice is yours.
  • Mark the activity sheets using the answer sheets provided and use your own teacher judgment.

You can find our range of Grammar and Punction skills resources here.

Grammar and punctuation skills - literacy resources

Are you looking for digital paperless Literacy Skills resources? Click here.

What people are saying about our grammar and Punctuation skills resources

Literacy devices and conventions - literacy resources

LLiteracy skills resource for New Zealand and Australia

Root Words, Prefixes, Suffixes, Question Marks, Exclamation Marks

Tash G. said: These are very popular with my students. They actually enjoy doing them and marking them. The posters are also extremely helpful as students can use them to assist when they were unsure. Will be using it again!

Sharleen H. said: I have been using this for a year now and it’s fantastic! Students are making progress and retaining their new skills too.

Literacy Skills Posters

A great way to highlight figurative language and parts of speech is to display these in your classroom environment. Our Literacy Skills Poster Bundle features 22 posters in total. Click here to see more. 

Brighten up your classroom walls with our Literacy Skills Rules

Did you say freebies?

We have TWO great freebies to help you out!

Help your students to retain and reinforce their grammar and punctuation

Sign up for our newsletter and you can download our FREE Grammar and Punctuation skills sample (Year 3-4, Year 5-6, Year 7-8) resource, featuring activity sheets and figurative language task cards.

Parts of Speech Puzzle Freebie

Sign up for our newsletter and you can download our FREE Parts of Speech puzzle poster. This could be completed with the individual one-page puzzle poster or be used as a collaborative whole class activity with small groups completing a puzzle piece each.

If you have any questions about how to better cover grammar and punctuation skills in your classroom, do let me know. I’d love to help.

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Onwards and upwards!

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