Fun Ways to Teach Exclamation Marks

Exclamation marks are often used to show shouting.

Teach children exclamation marks in a fun way by using online games, chants, emotive or amusing sentences and more advanced methods. Exclamation marks indicate exclamatory sentences, which are usually used for warnings, surprise and emotion. Teaching children how to correctly use exclamation marks is important in helping them learn to use punctuation correctly in their written work. They should also be able to differentiate between a sentence that requires an exclamation mark and one that needs a question mark.

1 Online Lessons and Games

Online lessons and games are a fun way to teach children about exclamation marks. One lesson, the “Sentence Detectives” starter activity, explains different punctuation marks and their uses in simple terms. Get the children to click the appropriate areas on the screen to find out about the four different types of sentences; then have them click on each type of sentence to learn about the different punctuation marks. Children should learn that exclamatory sentences require an exclamation mark. Click on the punctuation mark to read an example of its usage.

2 Chants

Chants can be used as an enjoyable and memorable way for children to understand the rules for using an exclamation mark. Use the “Exclamation Chant” from the Utah Education Network to help students know when to use an exclamation mark. The chant is a simple, four-line verse; the teacher chants each line, and the children repeat it. Add emotion into the song and be animated to make the lesson more enjoyable. Even if you feel silly, the children are more likely to remember the lesson that way.

3 Emotive Reading

Once the children understand that emotive or surprised sentences use exclamation marks, write some sentences on the board that require an exclamation mark. Use potentially humorous sentences, such as “That pig just won the Nobel Prize for quantum physics!” or outwardly emotional ones, such as “I can’t believe you would do this to me!” Get the children to read the sentences with the required inflection. Let them have fun with their exaggerated readings of the exclamatory sentences. Ask the children to write their own exclamatory sentences.

4 Advanced

To check for understanding, use pairs of sentences -- one question and one exclamation -- and have the children determine whether to place either an exclamation mark or a question mark at the end. Write sentences such as “Oh no, I’ve forgotten” and “What time is it” to help them distinguish between the two types of sentences. If the children choose the wrong answer, you can attempt to read the sentence with the incorrect punctuation to illustrate why it is incorrect. Use the “Rare Blond Hedgehog Rescued” news account to help children understand the function of exclamation marks. Ask them why they think the exclamation marks were used in the story.

Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.