June 15, 2015

Six Rules & Our Comma Kingdom

Is there one skill or topic you teach ALL year?  I know I do.

It's those pesky comma rules. It's one of those skills that I keep revisiting over and over again because no matter how many ways we break it down, we have forgotten those pesky comma rules two weeks later.

We all know the importance of good punctuation. Books like Eat, Shoots, & Leaves have shown kids that commas really DO make a difference. After all... commas save lives, right?

And yet... there are so many different rules for commas.  It's hard to remember it all. Some rules are even disputed (Oxford comma I'm talking to you.) Remembering all the rules can be challenging, especially when you are nine and ten years old and let's face it... sometimes you forget to start your sentence with a capital letter. So...we learn about commas all year long and all different ways! 

On my hunt for quality comma activities, I found some awesome resources from Amelia over at Where the Wild Things Learn. (BTW...how fantastic is that blog name?!?) She created  a great Comma Mini-Lessons Pack that included colorful posters with 6 very specific comma rules and practice pages. Definitely check out her TPT store and her blog.

After all our lessons throughout the year about commas, introductory clauses, fanboys, aaawwwbbis, and lists my kids loved having six very straight forward clear cut rules. Six rules they could manage.  This made sense.

We practiced using these six comma rules with a Comma Graffiti Activity! I'm so disappointed I didn't take pictures of my students doing this because they LOVED it!

Set up was simple. I grabbed six pieces of anchor chart paper and wrote each comma rule at the top. I included an example sentence below that. Then I numbered the anchor chart paper down the side 1-22.  I hung the posters around the room in a place where students could easily write on it.

from Where the Wild Things Learn
I had all students grab a marker (oh yes, a marker!!) and go around the room to add 1 sentence to each poster using the appropriate rule correctly. I had the kids write their sentence next to their classroom number so that I could see who had done what and seize a teachable moment for kids to fix mistakes.

Every child in my room loved this activity. My writers went to town! The crafted creative sentences that went beyond my simple examples. My struggling writers started at the simplest poster first (using a comma in a date) and by the time they got around to the other posters, there were 5-10 other examples for them to look at.   

Everyone was supported and encouraged as they practiced using the six manageable comma rules. They were laughing and reading each others sentences and at times trying to outdo each other. If something wasn't used correctly, they were helping their friends correct it! It was one of those perfect moments in the classroom where the activity does not just go well, but exceeds your expectations.  Yesssssss!

For our culminating activity, I had seen this fantastic comma project on Pinterest.  The link led me to 2nd Grade Rocks: Mrs. Fritts' Classroom and an activity called Mr. & Mrs. Comma that she did way back in 2012! Ahhh! Aren't those adorable?!?

I modified the project a bit for 4th graders, but not much. They had to write example sentences for all 6 rules and then they could create their very own comma person.

Here was my example.

They started getting creative. :)
I couldn't pick a favorite even if I wanted to.

As more and more comma people started rolling in, I felt we needed to create a bulletin board to showcase how awesome all these comma people were turning out. The kids designed and cut out the buildings all by themselves. I just assembled. 

Can you find the Gryffindor? 
How about the disco dancer? 
Captain America is on top of the yellow building on the right.

We just kept adding comma people to our Comma Kingdom. We ended up with a wookie (bottom left by the wizard), Darth Vader (tall yellow building, FYI-the helmet lifts up), Wonder Woman (in the clouds), a pirate, a moose, an astronaut, a nar-whal, and so much more!

The kids had an absolute blast and were so proud of their work. I soooo wish I had a better picture of the final board, but I had to snag this from the background of another photo. How I did not take a picture of the final product, I have no idea. I won't make that mistake again next year. #liveandlearn

My class said it was one of their favorite projects we did all year. Grammar is not always the most exciting thing to teach, so I'm so thankful that I found awesome inspiration online. With their guidance, I was able to put together great learning activities for my students and it turned into something they will never forget. Thank you ladies!

How do you teach commas and other grammar rules? Silly cartoons? This one made me laugh.

I'm always a fan of grammar humor. Of course, you have to understand it to get it.  :)


  1. I abolutely love this idea! My kiddos added commas everywhere except where they were supposed to be. Ugh! This is a perfect way to ingrain it in their minds. I love the rotation activity...especially using markers. Their use bumps up any activity! Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to use this!

    1. Yay! I'm so glad. Seriously, commas are so tough. We worked with them all year, but the motivation for these activities was so high that I think they got so much more out of it. If you try it, I would love to know how it goes.

  2. I love the comma people! Thank you for sharing!

    Fit to be Fourth

    1. Thank you! They were so much fun. I honestly think I could have dragged this project on for weeks. :)

  3. I love the Mr. and Mrs. Comma activity. Did you buy a template for them somewhere? I went back to link to Mrs. Fritts' Classroom, but I didn't see one of there. Please help. I love the idea!


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