Engaging Punctuation Activities for First Grade

Grasping proper ending punctuation is crucial to success in first-grade grammar lessons, but it's not exactly easy to get students excited about practicing it. If you're struggling to build some excitement among your students when learning punctuation, I've got good news! The 'Punctuation Pups' are here to save the day! Come along to check out my secret weapon for making punctuation activities more engaging and fun for firsties. 

Use these fun activities to help your students learn, practice, and understand correct punctuation as they are beginning to write sentences in first grade.

The Importance of Teaching Proper Sentence Punctuation 

In first grade, we work on all kinds of important grammar skills including sentence types, sentence structure, and basic punctuation. For students to develop strong writing skills, it's crucial that they learn about the different ways to punctuate a sentence, and when to use each ending in their writing. When students understand how and why to use a period, question mark, or exclamation mark it carries over to many other areas of learning. 

Practicing grammar skills in first grade is essential, but making them fun is even better so using these punctuation activities will help your students enjoy their learning.

First off, we all know that learning to read is no easy feat. Having an understanding of punctuation marks is super helpful when it comes to reading sentences in the correct tone of voice! Punctuation is also extremely important when it comes time for students to build their own sentences during writing activities as well. Taking the time to cement these skills will pay off throughout the year as you introduce more complex reading and writing activities to your students. 

To help ensure we're getting a strong start, I always spend a fair bit of time focusing on these skills at the beginning of the year. Once students grasp them, it helps to build confidence and skill sets as readers and writers, so it's definitely worth the effort! 

Introducing Types of Ending Punctuation 

Since I work with first-grade students, I know it's a toss-up as to whether or not they have an understanding of punctuation when they get to me. Typically, this is briefly touched on in kindergarten, but not necessarily taught in depth. For this reason, I like to start off with a short song like this one that helps introduce this topic before we begin. This particular song discusses each type of ending punctuation, as well as the requirement of an uppercase letter at the beginning of a sentence.

It helps remind those who are familiar with punctuation and provides some baseline knowledge for those who are brand new to this concept. Songs and videos always help get my students really excited to work on this topic and help to shake out a few wiggles too! 

After the video, we jump into our ending punctuation unit and go over some posters that review each type of ending punctuation as a whole group. The posters define each type and provide examples. 

I like to hang the full-color version on the board as we talk about them. I also print the black and white ones in smaller versions for the students to color as they follow along. They can glue them in their grammar journals when they are finished as a reminder, too! 

Meet the Punctuation Pups

Once we've done a short intro, I introduce my kiddos to the 'Punctuation Pups'. Since I know this topic can be a little dry, I decided I'd use a puppy for each type of ending punctuation mark to help get my students excited to practice. The pups include 'Penelope Period, Quinton Question, and Emily Exclamation'. I introduce them with a fun little mini-book from our unit.

Use this fun punctuation mini book to kick off your sentence punctuation unit.

My favorite way to use this interactive book is in small groups. This allows the children and I to walk through each page slowly and practice using the different types of punctuation. The interactive book defines each type, provides examples, and then has students practice identifying each type on their own.

There are a few different activities to practice choosing the correct punctuation inside the book. On some pages, students will color in the correct dog house to punctuate a sentence. On other pages, they will cut and glue the correct 'punctuation pup' at the end of a sentence. Working through this together in small groups is a great way to check in on students' understanding and make sure everyone is on track. 

Punctuation Pups Centers

After my students have had a chance to complete their interactive books in small groups, I like to use a couple of center activities to keep the practice rolling. One of the options we use focuses on properly punctuating sentence strips with punctuation mark sticks. To prep, I laminate the sentence strips and the punctuation cards. Then, I glue the punctuation cards to craft sticks. There are two options for this, one with the 'Punctuation Pups' and one without. 

Use this punctuation pups center activity to help your students focus on properly using punctuation with hands on sentence strips.

Kiddos will read the sentences and choose the correct ending punctuation marks to finish them. There is also a sorting worksheet included that uses the same sentences as the center activity. I like to have students use the worksheet as a follow-up activity after working on the sentence strips. 

Poke cards like these are a great way to help your students understand punctuation and then self check their answers as they practice.

We also use some fun "poke cards" during center time. If you've never used this type of center game before, you're in for a treat! I love these because they are self-checking and provide instant feedback to my firsties. Plus, they think the cards are fun to "poke" the correct answer into. Kiddos will read the sentence on the card and use coffee stirrers, thin straws, or pipe cleaners to poke the correct answer. Then they flip the card over and see if they are correct! 

More Punctuation Practice 

If you teach in the primary grades, you know extra practice is a MUST when it comes to grammar skills. The more opportunities we present our students to put these skills into action, the better! For this reason, I created a variety of no-prep printables to use during centers, independent work time, or to send home as homework. 
Worksheets like these are a fun way to get in even more independent punctuation practice with your students.

These pages use the same puppy theme as our center activities and interactive books, which the students love! There's a wide variety of pages that focus on reading sentences and choosing the correct ending punctuation mark. There are also a few pages where students can write their own sentences as well.

These come in really handy while we're working on our punctuation unit as well as for review throughout the year. If I happen to notice my kiddos struggling with this skill, I make a few copies of these worksheets and sneak them in for a little refresher. 

Punctuation Craftivity 

As a final closing activity to this unit, I love using a fun writing craft. If you've been around here a while, you probably already know how much I love fun and functional crafts. I know time is limited in the primary classroom, so all of my crafts target an academic skill as well! They're a great way to wrap up a new lesson, allow for a bit of creativity, and check in on student understanding. Plus, they're so fun to display on a bulletin board! I mean really, what's not to love?! 

This punctuation craftivity is the perfect way to help your students practice punctuation along with getting in a little extra creativity in the process.

These 'Punctuation Pup Writing Crafts' are always a student favorite! To use, each kiddo will either choose a sentence provided or write their own on the included paper. Then, they will choose the proper punctuation for the sentence and color their choice on the page. 

Finally, they get to color their own puppy page topper and glue the whole thing together. I have students glue the writing page down on construction paper and place the puppy on top. When they are all dry, I hang them up in the hallway or the classroom for a simple and cute bulletin board display. 

Check Out All of These Punctuation Activities

If you're ready to make grammar practice more fun and engaging for your kiddos, I recommend checking out the 'Punctuation Pups'! You can find all of the activities discussed in this post in my resource on TPT. The idea behind these activities is to help make this topic exciting for students and provide lots of opportunities for practice without it getting boring.

Grab this Punctuation Pups Ending Punctuation Activities to help your students learn, practice, and master punctuation this year.

Plus, this resource will simplify your planning too! With posters, interactive mini books, center games, no-prep printables, and a writing craft, you'll have everything you need to easily teach ending punctuation to your first graders in a fun format! 

Oh, and once your students have ending punctuation mastered, be sure to check out this resource that focuses on writing strong sentences too!  

Grab this Sentence Writing activities to even more fun punctuation practice.

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Use these fun and creative resources to help your first graders practice and learn proper punctuation this year. Use the activities as center activities, as independent practice, and small group work for punctuation practice your students will love. Be sure to grab the entire set to use in your classroom today! #thechocolateteacher #punctuationactivities #punctuationpractice #punctuationactivitiesforfirstgrade

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