Getting our young learners to understand punctuation, inflection, and expression when reading and writing can seem like a big challenge. While most students will instinctually understand inflection when something is read to them, it’s not something they can easily articulate when they are learning to read. With the Dotty Giraffe reading strategy, students are introduced to punctuation, inflection, and expression in a fun and easy to learn way they will absolutely love. Here’s how I use the super helpful Dotty Giraffe reading strategy in my classroom.
What is the Dotty Giraffe Reading Strategy?
The Dotty Giraffe reading strategy is a fun and clever way to help your students learn and practice punctuation and the use of inflection and expression in one’s voice when reading. It helps students practice when to variate their voice up or down and know when to pause during reading.
Dotty Giraffe also helps students learn their important punctuation including:
- Question marks
- Exclamation marks
- Quotation marks
This strategy uses fun rhymes and visual reminders to help students understand and learn these important skills.
Dotty Giraffe Introduction
A Little Teacher Trickery
This has to be one of my favorite introduction exercises because it’s a little silly but also drives the point home quickly. I pick one of our simple books, maybe one we are already familiar with, and start reading. But, here’s the catch, I don’t use any inflection and ignore the punctuation. It only takes a few pages before one of my little friends shoots their hand in the air to inform me I’m reading it wrong.
I ask if they can explain why the reading doesn’t sound right. While they don’t know the vocabulary yet to tell me that I’m forgetting inflection and punctuation, they absolutely can hear that I’m not making the correct sounds with my voice.
Sometimes, I ask for a student volunteer to come up and read it correctly. In moments it is clear that inflection and pauses are what they know I am missing. All of my students think it’s pretty funny that I’ve forgotten how to read suddenly.
The Ah-Ha Moment
Now that I’ve got them hooked, it’s time to talk about how those funny marks in sentences are like clues to tell our voices to go high or low, stop, speak quieter, or in a more excited tone.
This is when I introduce our new friend Dotty Giraffe. I ask my students if they know what a giraffe looks like.
This is a great opportunity to practice using adjectives with your students. You can even use a cute image of a giraffe and have students call out adjectives to describe how it looks. Eventually, someone will call out “spots” and this is the connection you want to focus on.
Giraffes have lots of spots and they all look a little different. I use the super cute punctuation characters from the Dotty Giraffe Reading Strategy Packet to compare them to the spots on the giraffe. If you are particularly artsy, you could even draw a giraffe and use some of the punctuation marks as the spots.
Dotty Giraffe Anchor Chart
Next, it is time to dig into the Dotty Giraffe reading strategy. I always begin with an interactive anchor chart. We start with this adorable Dotty Giraffe character front and center on the chart. She is the star of the strategy after all!
Next, I introduce our fun Dotty Giraffe rhyme. This simple rhyme helps students to understand the reading strategy and remember it.
The goal of the Dotty Giraffe strategy is to have students recognize punctuation and use it to read with inflection and expression. Because this is such a new concept, it’s important to immediately jump into some practice.
Using the punctuation cards, we start learning to identify the punctuation marks, understand what they mean, and recognizing them in sentences.
For the next anchor chart activity, depending on your student’s ability level, you can use the blank punctuation cards to have students draw what the punctuation mark looks like or write a sentence using it. They can also search through some books looking for the punctuation mark and copy the sentence they find.
This is great to do with small groups or even individually. Students can come up and paste their square onto the anchor chart giving you a super quick visual assessment of their understanding so far.
Because my students are exposed to a lot of reading opportunities throughout the day, there are lots of opportunities for them to identify the punctuation marks they are learning while working through the Dotty Giraffe reading strategy.
Dotty Giraffe Reading Tool Activity
Once students have an understanding of this new reading strategy and have completed some guided practice it is time to make our Dotty Giraffe reading tool.
This moveable and interactive tool is a great visual reminder to help students remember the inflection and expressions that go with each punctuation mark.
I copy the templates on thick cardstock, cut, and then laminate the pieces. My students love putting in the brads to make the pieces moveable.
We always have to take some extra time to “play” with our Dotty Giraffe reading tools after making them.
To use the Dotty Giraffe reading tool, just grab some leveled readers and let students start reading out loud. When they come to a punctuation mark, they will turn the Dotty Giraffe arrow to the correct punctuation to remind them of the expression or inflection they should use when reading aloud.
This is a great partner activity too! My students always love taking turns reading to each other using the Dotty Giraffe reading tool.
Dotty Giraffe Practice Pages
As your students are becoming more familiar with punctuation, it’s important to keep giving them lots of practice opportunities to use the Dotty Giraffe reading strategy. These Dotty Giraffe worksheets are a great way for students to get in some practice throughout the week as they are learning how to use this new Dotty Giraffe reading strategy. Each worksheet is specifically designed to give students strategic practice with this reading strategy.
I have two different practice page activities for students to complete. Both include cutting and pasting which also helps with engagement and fine motor practice. One worksheet focuses on inflection and expression and the other focuses on punctuation.
Each type of worksheet includes a sentence for students to read and options for them to cut out at the bottom of the page which match the inflection or punctuation in the sentence.
Dotty Giraffe Center Activities
I absolutely love adding reading strategy practice into our center activities. These Dotty Giraffe center cards are a fun activity to help students get even more inflection, expression, and punctuation practice.
Pin it Cards
Students will use the Dotty Giraffe reading clip cards to identify the punctuation that is missing from each sentence. This pin-it card reading center is so much fun and a great way to have students practice independently or with a partner during center time.
Each card includes a sentence and three punctuation choices with picture clues. Students can use clothespins to indicate the correct punctuation for the sentence on each card and get some fine motor practice in too. But, they can also circle the correct answer with a dry erase marker.
Match it Cards
I also like to include Dotty Giraffe matching cards as a center activity. Students take sentence cards and try to match them with a picture that shows the correct inflection of expression.
It’s a great opportunity to practice the Dotty Giraffe reading strategy because the sentences have been carefully chosen to provide practice with this reading strategy. It is also a great reading fluency activity as I like to have students read the sentence multiple times.
Both of these center activities are easy to prep and store. I like to keep all the cards and supplies together using a small pencil box or zip-lock bag. With everything stored in one place, students can quickly and easily grab the activity and begin working.
Dotty Giraffe Student Craft
Finishing up the week with a cute Dotty Giraffe craft is a great way for students to show off their understanding of this fun new skill. My students love our reading strategy crafts as much as I do! It’s something they always look forward to when learning a new reading strategy.
Students will grab a book and their Dotty Giraffe reading tool. They will read their book looking for punctuation in the sentences.
When they come to a punctuation mark, they use their Dotty Giraffe tool to help them determine the inflection and expression in their voice when reading aloud. They will copy the sentence onto their Dotty Giraffe page.
Next, students create a cute Dotty Giraffe. They will put it all together to create a fun reading strategy craft. The finished craft makes a great classroom or hallway display.
My students always love taking these home to show off to their families at the end of the week.
Grab The Dotty Giraffe Anchor Chart And Activities Set
You can grab the Dotty Giraffe Anchor Chart and Activities in the Emily Education store. With these carefully crafted activities, your students will be using the Dotty Giraffe strategy in no time to master inflection, expression, and punctuation.
Other Fun and Helpful Reading Strategies
As you probably already guessed, I love using anchor charts and reading strategies in my classroom. Dotty Giraffe is just one of the successful reading strategies I use with my kiddos. Be sure to check out these other reading strategies sure to get your students excited about learning to read.
Save These Dotty Giraffe Reading Strategy Activity Ideas
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