Punctuation can be tricky for many students to learn, so the more practice you can give them, the better. Punctuation games can help students learn the principles of correct punctuation in a fun, non-threatening environment. Games can have written and oral elements.
Missing Punctuation Game
Divide the class into two teams. Read a sentence out loud. Have a member of each team write the sentence on the board, including the correct punctuation. (Students are allowed to coach their teammates.) The first team to get the sentence right gets a point. After each sentence, discuss any questions students may have. Use longer and more complicated sentences as play continues. The team with the most points wins.
Stop, Slow Down, Go Game
Give each student coloured pencils in red, yellow and green. Explain that just as a red light means drivers should stop, periods, question marks and exclamation marks signal the end of a sentence. Likewise, just as green lights tell drivers to go, a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence tells a reader to start again. Finally, commas, colons and semicolons tell readers to slow down and/or take a short pause, similar to the function of yellow rights on the road. Have students take a writing assignment and mark each type of punctuation with the appropriate colour.
Have each student pair up with a partner. Give each team a copy of a newspaper or magazine article that you have retyped with the addition of a number of unnecessary commas. Have each team find and circle the unnecessary commas. Correct the worksheets as a group, answering any questions students may have. Then have each team write its own paragraph containing unnecessary commas. Have the groups trade paragraphs and correct each other's work.
Give each student two paper plates, two craft sticks, crayons and glue. Have students label and/or decorate one plate to mean "Correct" and the other to mean "Incorrect." Have students glue craft sticks to the back of the plates. Using an overhead projector or smart board, show a series of sentences to the class, some of which will be punctuated correctly and some of which will punctuated incorrectly. Ask students to hold up their "Correct" or "Incorrect" plates after viewing each sentence. Give points for each correct answer. The student with the most points gets a prize.