Punctuation for Effect


Most students at this level understand the basics of punctuation.  However, they may not fully grasp the effect punctuation has on the meaning of a sentence.  Students may see punctuation used like colons, semi-colons, or dashes, but may not understand the effect they have while reading, or when to use them with their writing.  It is important teachers to remind students not to overuse punctuation marks.

Punctuation for Effect Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about using Punctuation for Effect
  • Hands-on homework activities giving students practice using Punctuation for Effect
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 3-5 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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The lesson covers the various reasons punctuation is used aside from grammar. The lesson begins with a list of punctuation markings from a period to a parenthesis. Then the lesson describes how changing the punctuation mark can change the effect of a sentence, such as changing a period to an exclamation mark. Several examples are provided to help students understand the concept. Teachers should remind their students not to overuse punctuation marks no matter the type.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction: 

  1. Display the following two sentences: The dog ran out the door.  The dog ran out the door!  Ask students:  What is the difference between the two sentences?  Ask a volunteer to read each sentence.
  2. Allow for responses and discussion. Ask students why the second sentence is read differently than the first sentence.
  3. Allow for responses and discussion. Ask students:  What is the purpose of punctuation?
  4. Allow for responses and discussion. Introduce Punctuation for Effect.
  5. Distribute Punctuation for Effect content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Share additional examples to help with understanding.  Save the final question for the lesson closing.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  6. Distribute Activity page. Read and review the instructions.  Pair students, distribute poster paper and scissors.  Access to the Internet or sources may be used for images.  Encourage students to be creative.  Students should create a rough draft for the sentences used on the poster, and for the design of the poster.
  7. Once completed, student pairs share the poster with the class, reading several of the sentences aloud, emphasizing the effect of the punctuation.
  8. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’ responses.
  9. Distribute the Homework page. The next day, check and review the students’ responses.
  10. In closing, ask students: Which punctuation mark do think would have the most effect on you and why? How would it need to be used in a sentence?

Common Core State Standards: 


Class Sessions (45 minutes): at least 2 class sessions

Additional Resources:

Want more language arts resources? Check out our other Language Arts Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade


Language Arts