Activities to Teach Capitalization & Punctuation

Have students write a short story using correct capitalization and punctuation.

Writing has little meaning if the reader is unable to discern the tone of the written message or even tell when one sentence begins and another one ends. Among other things, capitalization separates sentences and highlights proper nouns and names. Punctuation helps the reader understand the emotions and feelings behind the statements. Activities teaching capitalization and punctuation help students recognize that the correct use of both is important so communication is not hindered or misunderstood.

1 Capitalization and Punctuation Worksheets

Worksheets give students practice in finding and correcting capitalization and punctuation problems. They also help students understand that correct capitalization and punctuation help people communicate effectively with one another. Write a series of short paragraphs that require capitals and punctuation, only run all the sentences together. First, ask the students to try to read the paragraphs out loud. Second, ask them to correct the paragraphs to make them readable. For example, a paragraph might read as follows: “when amber was walking at the park her dog started barking she looked up and gasped oh no there is a horse running wild what can i do she used her cell and called emergency there is a horse running wild i cant catch it and cant run away help” Discuss the difference that correct punctuation and capitalization makes to effective communication.

2 Capitalization and Punctuation Games

Play games to create a fun learning environment. Divide students into teams. On the board write out a series of sentences that all run together. Teams raise their hands to be the first to suggest corrections. A correct guess gives that team a point. The team with the most points wins. Ask each team to come up with four sentences without either capitalization or punctuation marks. In turn, each team writes its sentences on the board for the other teams to correct. The team that does the best job making corrections wins. This game can end in a tie.

3 End the Sentence

Explain the difference between the three types of sentences. Statements tell, questions ask and exclamations reveal excitement and emotion. On paper or the board, list a variety of sentences. Make the sentences personal to your students. Leave out punctuation marks. For example, “Is Sara in this class,” “Robert is wearing a blue shirt” and “Emergency in classroom 219 Come right away.” Let the students add punctuation. Some statements change depending upon punctuation. Add some sentences that can be interpreted more than one way and discuss situations that would change how the sentence is understood depending on the ending punctuation mark.

4 Make it Real

With younger children, use a well-known classic story for this activity; with older children, use a story from a newspaper. Rewrite the story leaving out capitalization and punctuation. Ask the students to read the new version. Without proper capitalization and punctuation this can be difficult. Now, either as a class or on individual papers, add in correct capitalization and punctuation. Students may find their versions differ from the printed version. Discuss whether the differences stem from incorrect editing or from how the student perceives the statement. Talk about the importance, especially for a news story, in getting capitalization and punctuation correct.

Carolyn Scheidies has been writing professionally since 1994. She writes a column for the “Kearney Hub” and her latest book is “From the Ashes.” She holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where she has also lectured in the media department.