When students write stories consisting of just a few sentences, they generally have no trouble remembering to start each sentence with an uppercase letter and end with a period. However, as they begin producing longer stories, concentrating mightily to get all those words down on paper, some students skip the punctuation altogether. When asked to go back and put periods at the end of sentences, many are unsure where the periods should go.
In an attempt to avoid this issue, I decided to begin our writing lessons with a brief lesson on ending punctuation. First we tackled the question: What is a sentence? A sentence is about a subject, and what that subject is or does.
Next, we played the subject-predicate game. I gave groups of students several subjects (The cat, a white rabbit, the boy, etc.) and several predicates (swam in the pond, flies in the sky, eats mice, etc.) and let them mix them up to create silly sentences. They used glass beads as periods to end their sentences.
After reading and admiring one another's work, students copied a few of the silly sentences, using stickers as periods. If they had extra time, they wrote and punctuated their own silly sentences.
From now on, I'll be encouraging students to punctuate as they write, pausing often to consider whether what they just wrote is a full sentence, and remembering to end with ending punctuation and begin the next sentence with an uppercase letter. Punctuation rules!