Learning correct punctuation is an important skill necessary for increasing the writing ability of young students. First graders will learn punctuation marks like periods, question marks and exclamation marks. It is important to have several activities for students when teaching them about exclamation marks to reinforce what they have learnt. Introduce the marks with a structured lesson. Reinforce the information they learn through reading activities, worksheets and games.
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Write sentences that are exclamations and commands on the board. Add exclamation marks to the ends of sentences; for example, write "I just saw a cute bunny!" and "Danger!" Have students practice exclaiming and commanding as they read the sentences aloud. Instruct your first graders to write their own sentences ending with exclamation marks. Students can also brainstorm a list of written commands they see in their daily lives that would end in an exclamation mark, like "Stop!" and "Beware of Dog!"
Read the class a book to teach students about identifying exclamation marks. Select a sentence from the book that ends in an exclamation mark. Have students write the sentence on a piece of paper. Discuss with the class what exclamation marks are and how they function in the sentence they wrote. As you read through the story, have students point out every time they see an exclamation mark. Age- and content-appropriate books include: "The Cat in the Hat" and "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Seuss; "If You Were an Exclamation Mark" by Shelly Lyons; and "Yum! Yuck! A Foldout Book of People Sounds" by Linda Sue Park and Julia Durango.
Worksheets are a good activity for students to practice using punctuation. To create your own worksheet, first look over a few ready made worksheets suitable for first graders. TLSbooks.com has punctuation worksheets that will provide you with insight into how to create your own. For the students to practice multiple punctuation marks, include sentences that end with exclamation marks, question marks and periods. Include an explanation of the punctuation to help students who may get stuck. Make sure the sentences you use for the worksheet are short and the vocabulary is familiar to your students. Include anywhere from 10 to 20 sentences.
Julie Williams recommends playing Punctuation Red Light, Green Light for an educational twist on the classic game. Draw a large exclamation mark on a piece of construction paper with a black marker. If teaching other punctuation marks to your first graders, draw a period, comma and a question mark on separate pieces of construction paper. Have students line up at a distance from you. Say "Green light, readers" for students to start running toward you. Say "Yellow light, readers" when you want them to look at which punctuation mark you are holding up. Say "Red light, readers" for students to act out which punctuation mark is on the card. For an exclamation mark, have students jump up and down and wave their hands like they are exclaiming something. For a period, have them freeze in their tracks to show that you stop when you come to a period in a sentence.
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