The lesson about contractions helps students tackle a common yet sometimes complex form of word usage. Learning to use contractions confidently allows students work to sound more polished and less “clunky.” The lesson groups various contractions into families to help students better understand how to combine words and use apostrophes. Understanding how contractions are created is a basic piece of word knowledge all scholars should possess.
Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction:
1. Since this lesson covers a range from 1st to 3rd grade, you may need to introduce, briefly review, or extensively review other parts of speech and functions of apostrophes and punctuation before introducing contractions.
2. After your review bring your class to the carpet and give everyone a word card. Tell them not to start looking at them yet. Give the direction that each person a card that will put them in a group with two others. These are contraction families. Ask if students know what a contraction is. Some students may. Tell them not to share yet, because you want the classmates who are not sure of the term to figure it out.
3. Have students rise in place, and look at their cards without showing others. Explain that they will have a minute (or two, three, whatever is appropriate for your class) to find their two family members. Do not give further instruction, let them figure it out through discovery learning and interaction with peers.
4. Tell students to now show their cards to others as they move around on the rug and when they find their family members they can sit in a group of three.
5. Once all students have sat down, or the time is up, have groups that were able to figure it out explain what they did. Help groups who were not able to figure it out by asking questions such as “I see you have do and you have not. What’s another words we could use when we say ‘do not’ run in the hall? Don’t. The word “don’t” is a contraction formed with the words do and not.” Make your guided question specific to the words you have remaining. “Will not/ won’t” may be tricky so give to advanced students or prepare to explain that it is an irregular contraction.
6. Once students have all found their groups, start writing the contraction families on the board. When the list is done, there should be six sets of words. Explain to students that when we take two words and combine portions of them using an apostrophe, we have created a contraction. Ask students what happens to the two words in order to become one word. Take answers from volunteers, but make sure you clarify with this definition, which you should use as the root of your anchor chart.
7. After reviewing the rule and completing the anchor chart, read the sample passage as a whole class. The first five sentences deal with using two words to form contractions, and the second five deal with identifying contractions and stating what two words created the contraction. After reading once aloud, provide copies to your students so they can mark their copies and gain practice forming and breaking down contractions. Read sentence by sentence, having students marking their work and having volunteers identify contractions or break them down, correcting as needed.
8. Assign the first activity sheet to be done with a partner. Students will underline all contractions in the paragraph, and then rewrite them as word pairs. Go over as a class. Pull students into a small group if they struggle and work through the second activity sheet with them instead of assigning it independently.
9. Assign the second activity sheet as an independent activity unless students struggled (see step 8), where students independently practice locating contractions in a sample passage and transforming word pairs into contractions. Have students switch with a partner to check work as you go over answers at the end of the activity. Alternatively, this can be used as practice in a center and you can collect it to asses.
10. Assign the practice page, where students independently review contractions and include them in their own writing.
Common Core State Standards:
Class Sessions (45 minutes): At least 2 class sessions
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