Sunday, January 13, 2013

Greedy Apostrophe!

One of the most basic grammar rules is using the almighty apostrophe to show possession, but people (I'm not just writing about 2nd graders here) are always misusing it. Apostrophes do not form plural words. Teacher's and grammar lover's everywhere are tired of people misusing this tiny, but oh so important punctuation mark. (Did you see what I did there? Teachers and grammar lovers are PLURAL NOUNS - they do not need apostrophes! They do not own anything! They are not showing possession!) 

Teaching 2nd graders how to correctly use apostrophes is actually incredibly fun, thanks to Jan Carr's adorable children's book Greedy Apostrophe: A Cautionary TaleThis delightful story begins with all of the punctuation marks reporting for their daily duties. All of the marks are given specific jobs - the quotation marks help with dialogue, the exclamation points are needed to show excitement and the apostrophes have to make contractions and show possession. Before they begin their day on the job, all punctuation marks are required to recite the Punctuation Mark Oath - promising "always to help readers, never to confuse them." Greedy Apostrophe is known for being rebellious and he refuses to participate in the solemn oath. He storms out of Hiring Hall and wreaks havoc all over town. He loves placing himself where he doesn't belong. He confuses students at a local school by changing the "Pencils and Rulers" sign to "Pencil's and Ruler's!" He tricks shoppers at the local toy store, advertising "Yo-Yo's" and "Marble's". Does he eventually learn his lesson? Find out for yourself! You can purchase a copy for your classroom here It's a really great book to get your students excited about one of the most basic (and frequently misused) grammar concepts. 

Reading this book is part of my apostrophe unit every school year. Greedy Apostrophe always visits my classroom and my students LOVE him! You can make your own Greedy Apostrophe in less than 5 minutes - all you need is red & white construction paper and a black marker. I move him to a new place in the classroom when my student's (looks like Greedy Apostrophe wanted to leave his mark on my blog) leave the room for recess, PE, library, etc. When they return, they immediately begin the search and can't wait to find out where he is hiding. They've all been instructed to inform me when they locate him so I can snap a quick picture for photo evidence. The students are also required to tell me why he doesn't belong where he is. They actually think it's quite hilarious when he attaches himself to a plural noun. When they are lined up and ready to leave the room, I'll hear them whisper to each other, "I wonder where Greedy Apostrophe will be next!" or "I wonder what kind of trouble he'll cause while we're at recess." 

In addition to moving him around the room, I have my students make wanted signs to hang up around the classroom. I show the students some photos of wanted signs and they get to design their own for Greedy Apostrophe. One of the wanted signs I shared with them this year was of Harriet Tubman - which can be used to jumpstart a social studies unit about The Underground Railroad. Because we are currently studying the vowel sounds of y in phonics, students were also required to describe Greedy Apostrophe using at least three words that utilize y as the long e sound. Some of the descriptive words the students used were - sneaky, silly, greedy, smarty pants, funny, meany, grumpy, crazy, naughty, etc. 

If you're looking for other fun and engaging books to teach your students about apostrophe's (there he goes again!), I highly recommend Alfie the Apostrophe by Moira Rose Donohue and The Awesome Apostrophe Show by Justin McCory Martin. 

Happy writing!