Teaching possessive nouns can be a train wreck. But have no fear! Your third, fourth, and fifth grade students can learn this tricky skill in just three days.
Ms. Sneed Learns About Teaching Possessive Nouns
Our favorite fourth grade teacher, Ms. Sneed, sighed deeply. “I’m about to ditch the textbook,” she told her mentor.
“What’s wrong?” asked Mrs. Brown.
“Ugh! I taught possessive nouns using the text last month. Unfortunately, my students did not do well on the test. And now they’re putting apostrophes everywhere!”
Mrs. Brown smiled. “Teaching possessive nouns can be easy. Just make it clear and concise.” She picked up a pencil and jotted down a few steps:
- Tell kids that possessive nouns show ownership. When a word ends with an apostrophe and an s, that person, place, or thing owns something.
- Explain that the singular or plural noun must first be written in its entirety. Then you add the possessive ending.
- Teach singular possessive nouns.
- Teach plural possessive nouns.
- Do a little mixed practice.
Then she walked to her computer. With a few clicks, she pulled up some Halloween-themed activities. “I use this set every year in October,” Mrs. Brown said. “However, you can also get a generic resource to use anytime during the year.
“Let’s talk about the three days of instruction,” she continued.
Teaching Singular Possessive Nouns (Day #1)
“This part is straightforward: just add ‘s. To everything! Have kids practice writing the word and adding the ending.
“It’s important to emphasize that the entire noun must be written first. After that, the ‘s is added. This helps kids battle their greatest mistake: adding an apostrophe before an s that already appears in the word.”
“Start with one-word practice. Give your students a list of singular nouns and ask them to make them possessive. Sprinkle in plenty of singular nouns that end in s (like bus and glass). Remember: write the word then add ‘s.
“Continue with phrases. You’re likely to run into some problems here. Some students will have trouble figuring out which word to make possessive. Others may have difficulty with order of the words. Still others will make both words possessive. Use modeling to help kids see how it’s done. Then walk around the classroom to spot (and correct) those who still don’t quite get it.”
Teaching Plural Possessive Nouns (Day #2)
“On the second day, you throw in a little twist. When plural nouns do not end in s, you handle them just like singular nouns – – – add ‘s. But if the plural noun already ends in s, you simply add an apostrophe.
“Again, the entire noun must be written first. For plural nouns ending in s, you add apostrophe to the end. If the noun does not end in s, you need to add an apostrophe and then an s. Just like Day #1, start with one word and continue to phrases.”
Doing a Little Mixed Practice (Day #3)
“On the third day, you can seal the deal with mixed practice. In my experience, however, kids will need repeated reinforcement and/or practice throughout the year. Now that they have the rules, it’s time to mix it up.”
“I think my kids would do better, if I had the rules printed out,” said Ms. Sneed.
Her mentor clicked back to the rules page. “Yes, if kids know the rules, everything is smooth sailing.”
Teaching Possessive Nouns Is Really Easy!
“You’re right!” Ms. Sneed said. “If you take the right approach, teaching possessive nouns can be easy – and maybe even fun.”
With a few clicks, Mrs. Brown landed on the Teachers pay Teachers website. Soon she found the generic possessive nouns resource. “You can see that it also includes some cute coloring sheets and an assessment.”
The younger teacher nodded. “Yep. I’m doing this,” she said. And, of course, that famous teacher smile lit up her face.
Over the course of her career, Ms. Sneed realized that there were 6 steps to enjoy teaching. In order to survive, she had to organize, plan, and simplify. Then, to thrive, Ms. Sneed needed to learn, engage, and finally – dive in! Follow the Fabulous Teaching Adventures of Ms. Sneed and learn how you can enjoy teaching too.