Teaching Commas to Students

It’s time to teach commas! This little punctuation mark makes a big difference!

Teaching commas in your elementary classroom should be done in parts. Students will need to learn each of the rules separately. Then, they should gain experience with each rule before moving on. You will see commas in first grade and every grade after. So, the foundation is very important!

Throughout this blog post, I’m going to reference the Common Core State Standards. Within the Language domain of these national standards, each grade level builds upon each other to increase knowledge of skills. Here is the structured outline of how Common Core thinks we should be teaching commas to students

  • 1st Grade- L.1.2.c- Use commas in dates and to separate single words in a series.
  • 2nd Grade- L.2.2.b- Use commas in greetings and closings of letters.
  • 3rd Grade- L.3.2.b- Use commas in addresses.
  • 3rd Grade- L.3.2.c- Use commas and quotation marks in dialogue.
  • 4th Grade- L.4.2.b- Use commas and quotation marks to mark direct speech and quotations from a text.
  • 4th Grade- L.4.2.c- Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence.

Teach About Commas in a Series

Teacher-created anchor chart to teach commas in a series.

First, we will start with commas in a series. Students will learn how to place commas when they are writing three or more items in a series. This simple anchor chart is a great tool for this! Teachers can write sentences that contain items in a series. Then, students will interact with the chart, locating where each comma belongs! The anchor chart is such a quick and easy tool that you can add it to your daily instruction while students are learning about commas! Or even after!

Show Commas in Dates- Teaching Commas to Students

Activity for students learning commas in dates.

After students have mastered commas in a series, we will be teaching commas in dates! First, have students place commas in already formed dates. Activities like the ones shown here will allow students to focus on the correct comma placement. One activity to do with your students is rewriting dates. Students will take a prewritten date, without commas, and rewrite the date correctly. Rewriting the entire date gives the student practice with commas, and it gives them practice with date order.

Student activity to revise or edit dates to correctly use commas.

Another activity for teaching commas in dates is this. Students will locate dates within sentences. Then, they will revise those sentences by adding commas in the missing spots. This step is important! Students need exposure to dates in actual text, not simply in isolation.

Introduce Letter Writing Using Commas

Printable or digital anchor chart for commas in letters.
Anchor Chart for Commas in letters.

Now, it is time to teach commas in letters! You want your students to learn the three parts of a letter that contain commas. Displaying an anchor chart for students to reference during this time will be beneficial. Because students have previously learned about commas in a series and commas in dates, the greeting and closing will be your focus.

After teaching the rules, have students practice with another interactive anchor chart. Prewrite a few “letters” without the commas. Then, have students place their commas with a different color. Voila! Hands-on practice!

Student activity for practicing commas in letters.

Students will need continued practice with this skill. Fill-in activities that have students constructing the parts of letters that include commas will be a perfect fit! Students can complete activities like these independently or with partners.

Hands on practice activity for commas in letters.

There are several parts of letters that don’t require commas. So, students will need to be exposed to the other components in order to hone in on this skill. Above, you can see that students are presented with a name, street or city, and state. Students will need to identify each example and rewrite them correctly. Because they don’t all require commas, this will strengthen their skills!

Show How Commas Are Used in Quotes

Hands on practice to learn commas in quotes.

Teaching commas in quotes can be scaffolded, too. After introducing the rules, students can practice rewriting quotes with the correct commas and quotation marks.

Advanced Tip: Show Commas Linked with Coordinating Conjunctions

Student activity to practice commas in conjunctions.

Conjunctions are associated with commas, as well. Students need to learn when and how to use commas with conjunctions. As a small group, students can take turns spinning for a conjunction. Then, they will build sentences using the comma and conjunction.

Partner sentence building activity for commas with conjunctions.

As partners, students can build sentences with conjunctions. In this activity, students will write half of a compound sentence. Then, they will draw a conjunction and a comma. Their partner will add their half of the compound sentence. Lastly, they will arrange the compound sentence so that it makes sense!

Suggested Resources for Teaching Sentences

If you are in need of full units to teach commas, look no further. First through fourth-grade units are available in my store! These units are complete, with lessons, printables, activities and assessments!

Or check out the Comma units in my TPT store.

Need it DIGTIALLY?

I have created a few activities in ready-made Google Slides. These Comma activities are made for 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades!

Thank you for reading through my post on teaching commas!

Blog post about teaching commas in elementary.

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