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Punctuation practice: Instructional texts

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By Eileen Joneseducation journalist, author and literacy specialist

Help children to convey written messages clearly by boosting punctuation skills

Illustrated safari park

Take a sample look at the other articles in this series:

Punctuation practice — how to help boost punctuation purpose and effect.

(Also available in the July ‘09 issue of Junior Education PLUS.)

Punctuation practice: conversational texts — Polish up on punctuation skills with a fun exploration of written dialogue.

(Also available in the Aug ‘09 issue of Junior Education PLUS.)

Instructional texts are the bread and butter of writing. Practical and straightforward, their purpose is to convey messages clearly. And, the punctuation reflects this. So, this month’s ‘Punctuation practice’ article focuses on a limited range of marks, demonstrating how they match the text’s tone and message.

Use the early oral activities (right) to revise the formation of instructions; have fun with the safari park keeper and animals ordering visitors and one another about in the Interactive resource, ‘Animal punctuation: Instructional texts’ and use the Activity sheets, ‘Punctuation practice: Instructional texts’ to help children consider the impact and appropriateness of certain punctuation marks. Finally, guide the children towards recognising that some punctuation rules may be flexible and many writers have a personal punctuation style.

1. Group boss

Explain to the children that they are preparing for their trip to the safari park. Sitting in small groups, they should take it in turns to each give the others an instruction, such as ‘Pack the picnic lunch.’ Afterwards, the children should compare the different verbs that were used. Ask: What was the verb’s sentence position? (At the beginning) What tense was it? (Present) What form? (Imperative) Emphasise these features and play the game again.

Subscribers can read the rest of this article with lots more activities and top tips and can 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.

Online extras!

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

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