With introductory phrases

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Introductory Phrases: using When I Was Little

This lesson will give students practice with using commas in introductory phrases. It helps with punctuation and sentence fluency issues! This lesson is used in 4th grade.

  • Read When I Was Little by Jamie Lee Curtis (Carolyn has a copy and is happy to loan it out)
  • Copy and cut out the Uses of Commas rectangles from pages 164 and 167 of Mechanically Inclined (Carolyn has a copy if you don't) Briefly show them to the class and post them on the board or on a poster.
  • Pass out the written text to the children and have them read it over. Ask them why commas are being used in most of the sentences in this text (to set off an opener)
  • Have them circle every comma used to set off an opener, but warn them that not all of them are.
  • Then ask them why the other commas are being used (to join sentences)
  • Have students put a box around all of the commas being used to join sentences.
  • Now have students write their own memoir. They may title their paper When I Was Little: A Nine-Year-Old's Memoir of Her Youth
  • Give students some silent time to think of a few ideas of things they might mention, using the same pattern of the text. Throw out some ideas for them to build on (scared of the dark, things you played with, things you ate, books you read)
  • Let them share some of their ideas with a partner
  • Allow some students to share ideas out with the class.
  • Talk them through the first sentence. Write on the board "When I was little," and have them do the same on their paper. Model the thought process and finish your sentence, "I was scared of thunder." Have them finish their own sentence.
  • Model a second sentence to go with that thought. "Now I think the thunder is fun to listen to." Have them write a second sentence, reminding them that it must match the topic of their first sentence.
  • Have student write another "When I was little. . . " sentence. As they work put another sentence of your own on the board (When I was little I was allergic to chocolate)
  • Challenge the students to use a compound sentence in their response to this one. Model one first. (Now I am not allergic, and I am making up for lost time.) Then have students write their sentences.
  • Give students time and guidelines to write some more sentences. They should be able to do at least two or three more. Require that at least one use a compound sentence. Remind them to watch their commas.
  • When they are finished have them proof read their writing to be sure they got all of their commas right.
  • Have them trade papers with a partner so the partner can also check for correct comma usage.

(This is a cute paper to then type up. Have students bring in a baby/toddler picture from home that you can scan and add to their paper.)

Origianally contributed by Carolyn Grumm

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