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Punctuation practice: Conversational texts

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By Eileen Joneseducation journalist, author and literacy specialist

Polish up on punctuation skills with a fun exploration of written dialogue

Illustrated safari park

Last month, our new punctuation series introduced punctuation and its contribution to a text’s meaning, mood and effect on the reader. This month moves on to conversational text – a seemingly punctuation minefield where children can feel overwhelmed by the apparent complexity of special rules and conventions about which punctuation mark goes where. The secret is to build up and justify marks gradually. So, begin with the basics: Which words are spoken? What normal punctuation marks apply? How can I avoid those words and marks getting muddled up with the rest of the text? Using our stimulating online resources, which include a poster, activity sheets and an interactive resource, will ensure that placing punctuation marks correctly during conversational writing will soon become logical, memorable and fun.

Online extras!

Animal Punctuation: Conversational texts

Don’t forget to reuse the eye-catching Poster, ‘Punctuation Safari Park’ during our new punctuation series. The Activity sheets, ‘Punctuation practice: Conversational texts’ are also available to help your class practise using punctuation. The fantastic Interactive resource, ‘Animal punctuation: Conversational texts’ challenges children to correctly write and punctuate spoken text within a fun safari park context (subscribers only).

Plus, take a look at our activities and resources for introducing children to punctuation.

1. Introducing conversations

Introduce conversations between animals using the Poster, ‘Punctuation Safari Park’ as a stimulus. Put the children into pairs, each partner taking it in turns to become a monkey, crocodile, elephant, giraffe, ostrich and lion. As park keeper, make an unexpected announcement, for example: No loud noises allowed today! In role as one of the animals, invite partners to tell each other their reaction to the keeper’s announcement using a short sentence. Suggest repeating their conversation, demonstrating expression through voice. Ask the children to write their sentences down and review them as a class. What feelings do they express? (Subscribers can use the “Interactive resource”, ‘Punctuation practice: Conversational texts’ to extend this activity.)

Subscribers can read the rest of this article with lots more activities and top tips and exclusively access the Interactive resource, ‘Animal punctuation: Conversational texts’ that challenges children to identify punctuation marks within a fun safari park context.

If you’re a non-subscriber, take a look at the reasons to subscribe.