For words that are supposed to make things easier, contractions can make things a whole lot harder, until your students understand how to use and spell them properly. Here are some ideas that can help.
Be sure your students know what a contraction actually is. The word “contract” means to make something smaller – and that is exactly what a contraction does. Explain that the apostrophe takes the place of the letters that disappear when two words are made into a contraction. It also helps to make sure they know that the first word doesn’t change.
Consider making a poster showing common contractions and their two-word partners to hang on the wall.
Try making large letter cards for students to hold (and also an apostrophe card). Have students come to the front of the room and give them each a letter to display two words to be made into a contraction, such as “DID NOT.” Give another student the apostrophe card. Then, choose a director. the director’s job is to remove the student(s) who are not needed and to add the apostrophe in the correct place to form the contraction. Try with several different words.
Play Contraction Action: Make pairs of cards with contractions and the matching two words. Distribute cards to students randomly. Then say, “Contraction Action!” and let them find their contraction partners. Once they are paired, they hold their cards up together to make little tent. When everyone has found his or her partner, start a new round by having kids move about the room, switching cards with each other as they go by each other so that kids have switched their cards several times before you say, “Contraction Action!” again.
Have students go on a Contraction Hunt. This can be done around the classroom or at desks using a book. Students write down every contraction they find, along with the two-word version.
Here is another idea about doing “contraction surgery.” The post also includes a contraction song.
Contractions practice is perfect for centers. Here are some ideas:
- Contraction Concentration – Write contractions and their corresponding two words on cards, and have students put them face down and then try to match them as they play.
- Any kind of matching game – ice cream cones and scoops, polar bears and icebergs, top and bottom halves of hearts, etc. Contractions on one half, two-word phrases on the other. After they match them, they can write them on an answer sheet and/or use the contractions in sentences.
- You can also use Contraction Task Cards…and, of course, I have some, if you would like to take a look: