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What Are the Different Types of Punctuation Games?

By Kristin Wood
Updated May 23, 2024
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Teachers can use several different types of punctuation games to help students learn the names and functions of all the punctuation marks. Using board games involving letters can help students learn proper grammar and sentence structure in a creative manner that gets them out of their seats and away from their usual workbooks. Online punctuation games are also used as teaching tools, and they can give students who finish their regular work early something to do while they wait for the next activity.

Teachers with antsy students might wish to get them standing up and moving around while playing Red Light, Green Light with a punctuation theme. During this game, all the students will begin in a horizontal line with the teacher standing several feet or meters away. The students are instructed to move toward the teacher when a mark is called out that does not end a sentence, such as a quotation mark, parentheses, or comma, but the students must freeze if a period, exclamation point, or question mark is called out. Students who do not freeze accordingly will be sent back to the starting place, and whoever reaches the teacher first wins the game.

Team punctuation games can quiz students on the basics of punctuation usage. Students can choose what punctuation mark they wish to be tested on, and the points they earn will be based on the level of difficulty. Teachers can make challenges that range from simply stating whether a sentence uses a punctuation mark correctly to giving a student an improperly-punctuated sentence and asking him to fill in the correct marks. In the advanced rounds, teachers can have the student create his own sentence using a specific mark correctly.

Teachers can also play Bingo-like punctuation games by having students fill in five-column grids with a different punctuation mark in each box. Although each student’s grid will be filled in differently, the top row of boxes will all spell “Bingo.” The teacher begins the game by reading the definition of a punctuation mark or by writing a sentence on the board that is missing a necessary punctuation mark. The students will mark out the corresponding box on their boards until someone has lined up a winning bingo with a complete horizontal or diagonal line of marked boxes.

Guessing punctuation games can get students out of their seats and using their brains. Teachers will write a different punctuation mark on several index cards. These cards will be taped to the students’ backs without them seeing what their own cards say. Once the game begins, students start asking each other yes or no questions about the mark on their back, such as, “Do I make the reader pause?” Whoever figures out her punctuation mark first is the winner.

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Discussion Comments
By browncoat — On May 23, 2014

@irontoenail - I don't know if I'd call that a game though. I think most of the games my kids play at school these days tend to be games for kids online and there are plenty that pertain to punctuation. The school has it set up so that they can only really play educational games on their computers, so they basically do it in their free time.

By irontoenail — On May 22, 2014

@pleonasm - I can see something like that descending into a bit of a brawl. I think the most fun I've ever had with punctuation was when our teacher asked us to look out for mistakes that had been made in public, like in the newspaper or in the supermarket or something like that. We became quite scornful about it, which I guess was a prelude to the grammar police on the internet today.

By pleonasm — On May 21, 2014

Another fun game that I've seen students play with their teacher was for them to be given different cards with words and punctuation on them and be asked how many ways they could change the meaning of a sentence. You can make this more or less simple for older children by mixing up the types of punctuation, or even not including specific types and letting the students come up with their own.

My favorite example of this is the old story about a teacher getting a class to punctuate the sentence "Woman without her man is nothing." And then males all used "Woman, without her man, is nothing" and the females all used "Woman, without her, man is nothing."

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