Teaching Possessive Nouns in Three Days

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.

 Teaching Possessive Nouns

The Key to Teaching Possessive Nouns

Teaching possessive nouns is easy. Just make it clear and concise.

  • 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.

I taught this last week with some Halloween-themed activities.

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.

teaching singular possessive nouns

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)

Here’s where 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.

teaching plural possessive nouns

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.

teaching mixed possessive nouns

It’s helpful to have the rules printed out, like this:

teaching possessive nouns

Explaining Possessive Pronouns

Okay, it’s crazy, I know. But possessive pronouns have no apostrophes. Why? My best guess is that the word itself denotes possession. In any case, this is a good way to help kids tell the difference between its and it’s, as well as there, they’re, and their.

possessive pronouns

Click here to grab this page for free.

If you take the right approach, teaching possessive nouns can be easy (and maybe even a little fun).

Worksheets, activities, and test are now available in a non-seasonal format.

teaching possessive nouns

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