Punctuation

Punctuation is used to support meaning and smooth reading of texts. Students at this foundation stage are using simple sentence level punctuation to structure their writing. Students need to understand the use of capital letters for names, and the use of a capital letter and a full stop to show the beginning and end of a sentence.

Punctuation: Is there a capital letter and a full stop?

Strategy

Explicit teaching

Punctuation is a feature of written text different from letters. Students should recognise how capital letters are used for names, and that capital letters and full stops signal the beginning and end of sentences. Students at the Foundation stage need to demonstrate simple sentence boundary punctuation in their writing.

Teach students the following simple punctuation features:

  • Beginning a sentence – The first letter in a new sentence is always a capital letter.
    Example: the cat ran away. › The cat ran away.
  • Ending a sentence – The end of a sentence is punctuated with a full stop.
    Example: The cat ran away › The cat ran away.
  • Names – Capital letters are always used for a person’s name and the pronoun reference ‘I’.
    Example: miss honey; sarah; i › Miss Honey; Sarah; I

General strategies

Engage students with frequent experiences of viewing and reading print featuring punctuation. Familiarise students with a range of punctuation by prompting students to consider what punctuation they can see and where it appears in texts. Developing students’ consistent recognition and use of simple punctuation will support their understanding of more complex punctuation at a later stage.

Teachers should explicitly model the use of sentence punctuation during joint construction and prior to writing. Display enlarged sentences with accurate simple punctuation in the classroom. Encourage students to check their own sentences for correct simple punctuation.

In Kindergarten students may have limited print literacy and EAL/D students’ language backgrounds may not use punctuation. Do not rely on student self-correction or prompts such as: Does that look right?

Teach accurate sentence punctuation by demonstrating what is possible and using definitive statements e.g. This sentence is missing a full stop; I cannot see where this sentence starts; This word is a name so it needs a capital letter.

Activities to support the strategy

Activity 1: punctuation comparison

Can be done in a whole class or small group context.

  • Select a page of print from a familiar big book or familiar text relevant to your students’ current learning focus and rewrite each sentence without the punctuation on large strips of paper.
  • Read the big book/text then display and re-read the selected page.
  • Group students and give each group a strip with a sentence on it.
    • Try to select text that includes a name.
  • Read the sentence aloud to each group as required.
  • Groups must add the missing punctuation to their sentence.
  • Conclude by comparing each group’s punctuated sentence with the original.
  • Differentiate this task according to your students’ learning needs by displaying or concealing original text, removing all, some or one type of punctuation feature, etc.
  • Variation: After adding punctuation groups attempt to order their sentences (using Blu Tack or sticky tape) to reconstruct original text.
  • Extension: Write two sentences on each strip so groups must identify each sentence boundary using meaning.

Activity 2: sentence champions (with punctuation)

This exercise can be a whole lesson, a regular literacy activity, a lesson break or writing warm-up to support students’ familiarity with capitals at the beginning of sentences. It can also be adapted to suit subject matter in a range of learning areas.

  • Provide a bank of words including some capitalised words and one full stop.
  • Remind students about accurate sentence punctuation.
  • Group students and provide paper for writing.
  • Students try to write as many correct sentences as they can, by using the full stop and the bank of words (words can be re-used in new sentences).
  • The group with the most sentences (correct) are declared the sentence champions.
  • Variation: All words in the word bank are lower case and students add capitals at the beginning of each sentence.
  • Variation: Students attempt to complete this activity in pairs or individually once they are familiar with it.

References

Australian curriculum

ACELA1432: Text structure and organisation: Understand that punctuation is a feature of written text different from letters; recognise how capital letters are used for names, and that capital letters and full stops signal the beginning and end of sentences.

NSW syllabus

ENe-9B: Outcome 9: demonstrates developing skills and knowledge in grammar, punctuation and vocabulary when responding to and composing texts (ENe-9B) - understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features: understand that punctuation is a feature of written text different from letters; recognise how capital letters are used for names, and that capital letters and full stops signal the beginning and end of sentences.

NSW literacy continuum

WRIC4M1: Aspects of writing, Cluster 4, Marker 1: Writes one or more simple sentences; some words spelled correctly, most letters formed correctly and evidence of sentence punctuation.

Teacher resources

Student resource

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