‘Let’s eat, Grandma!’ or ‘Let’s eat Grandma!’
We’ve probably all seen that old chestnut, ‘Let’s eat Grandma’. It’s a great way to show students why punctuation is important in written English. Punctuation is there to guide the reader and to help them to understand your true meaning when you write. If you don’t think it works, try reading a text with the punctuation taken out, or put in the wrong place.
Mark slung his backpack over his shoulder and ran the bus company. Had just introduced a new bus route over the cliffs. In the distance, Mark could see the sea sparkling with a smile. He paid for his ticket and sat down on the drivers lap. There was a newspaper with a bold headline, reading Burglar Caught in the back of the bus. A commotion started up, with two teenage boys arguing over the bridge. The bus travelled on until it pulled up at Mark’s stop below the deep water in the canal. Fish swam in the murky depths turning down a side alley. Mark reached his front door and took out his key from the back lawn. The dog was barking a welcome and Mark was very glad to be home at last.
This one’s quite entertaining, but then the writer did it on purpose! If you just put your full stops and commas in the wrong places, (don’t get me started on apostrophes), then it’s just plain confusing.
What’s more, when young children read without remembering to pause at the full stops they can lose interest because what they are reading doesn’t seem to make sense.
We all know it’s important to punctuate our writing correctly, whether we’re trying to get a novel published, applying for a job or replying to an email. But the simplest punctuation rule is often the hardest to learn, and the one that can persist right into high school. It’s knowing where the sentences begin and end, and putting the full stops in the right place. It can be explained in terms of grammar, but the best approach is probably practice, with the guidance of a friend or parent who can check students’ work for them.
You can download a small selection of the worksheets we use from our Printables page. Get those sentences sorted!