Saturday, October 5, 2013

Punctuatiónas Restaurant Grammar Activity (Week 7)

This week, in grammar, we focused a great deal on how to punctuate dialogue.  I ended the week by transforming my classroom into an Italian restaurant called "Punctuationas" (be sure to say that six-syllable word with an Italian accent!) where my students were served individualized menus stuffed with grammatically incorrect sentences.  They had to fix the errors with elbow macaroni, penne pasta, and small shells.  This hands-on culminating activity was a hit with my students!  Let me share some pictures with you and then explain in more detail how I created this activity.
My classroom door:
Look at that awesome flag a parent donated for the activity:

Décor from Dollar Tree:
For more decoration, donated empty pizza boxes from a local pizza place:
 I love that the community is always willing to help out my classroom.  All I have to do is ask!

A parent helped me set up the room while my students were at P.E. 
I dressed the part as Chef Bowman and my accessories came from Party City:   
 FYI, it's very difficult to smile with a stick-on mustache! 

Me and my "waitresses"
My parent volunteers were a huge help!  This activity would not have gone as smoothly without them!  They circulated the room while the students worked and were able to answer any questions the children had.
Okay, so you've seen some fun let's move on to talking about how I planned this 40 minute grammar activity.   
I decided that I would give each student five unique sentences to correct.  They sit in groups and I didn't want anyone to cheat!  At first, I thought I would just write these on sentence strips but soon realized that there wouldn't be enough room.  I typed up various sentences, making sure to space twice between each word so the students would have plenty of room to glue pieces of pasta in the correct places.
I only had the students add commas, quotation marks, apostrophes, periods, and exclamation marks.  I included the correct capitalization and made sure that I didn't have any interrogative sentences.  What kind of pasta would be used for a question mark, anyway?
My students worked independently to punctuate their sentences, but I did offer clues in case they got stuck.  On the back of each page, in the bottom right corner, I wrote a number that indicated how many errors there were on that page.  Also, the students could refer to our "special menu" for help:
I just pulled information from a few references in our Shurley Grammar textbook, typed them up, printed them out, and stuck them in a plastic frame from Dollar Tree.  They made great table tents!
Using manila folders, I created menus for the sentences to be placed in.  To keep things in order, I carefully numbered the menus and sentences:
My entrée numbers corresponded with my menu numbers. 
Each student got the exact number/type of pasta pieces they needed to complete their sentences:  
Once they finished their hands-on editing, they had to transfer their answers to a sheet of paper that I could grade:
To begin the activity, I picked my students up from P.E., dressed as a chef, and they were shocked!  I spoke in my best Italian accent and told them that they were about to have a unique dining experience.  I explained the grammar activity and made sure they understood what their task was.  As an incentive, I told them that I would award a special prize to the boy and girl who finished first with a perfect score.  I made the prize something I knew they would enjoy. 
When we got to the classroom, the waitresses seated the children and they quickly got to work.  One child tried to call out to another one across the room and I quickly walked over to him and quietly said, "Excuse me, Sir.  This is a nice establishment and I can't have you yelling across our dining room to other patrons.  Thank you."  From then on, the students took their job seriously and you could hear a pin drop in that classroom!  They were focused and engaged and I was thoroughly impressed.  I had Italian music playing in the background and a slideshow rolling with scenes from Italy. 
For those of you who are interested, here's the majority of my playlist:
Bella Notte--Lou Monte
O Sole Mio--Lou Monte
Papa Loves Mambo--Perry Como
Mambo Italiano--Renato Carosone
Tu Vuo Fa L'Americano--Renato Carosone
Tarantella Napolitana--The Godfather
That's Amore--Rocco Granata
I gave the students 30 minutes to complete the gluing and then they had to transfer their answers.  Of course, the students finished at different times, so I just had my early finishers read at their desks.  I wrote everyone's finish time down on their papers so I'll know which two students to award a prize to. 
For a surprise ending, our waitresses brought out pizza slices for us to enjoy for lunch!
I'd say Punctuationas was a success!
*My classroom transformations were inspired by my visit last year to the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia.  You can read about my first classroom transformation HERE.  You could transform your classroom for any subject area, but I plan to focus on transforming my room for grammar lessons because grammar is my students' least favorite subject.  My hope is to get them more excited and engaged.*


  1. Beyond wonderful Ashley! Thank you for my big laugh of the day when I got to your photo. I want to be in your class!

    1. haha! Oh, Jeanne--YOU are beyond wonderful! How I miss you! I want to be in your class. :)