Grab a Free Set Punctuation Cards and Lessons Here.


Step 1: After teaching a lesson on using commas in a series, write a model sentence like this one on the board: 

Detective Allan questioned the relatives of the victim, the eye-witnesses at the crime sceneand the employees at Stop and Shop.

Step 2: Ask for 6 volunteers to become a “Living Sentence.”

Step 3: Each group member will either memorize a piece of the sentence to present aloud or become a punctuation mark.  

Here is the breakdown of student roles:

Student #1 will say, “Detective Allan questioned the relatives of the victim”

Student #2 will hold up a comma and say, “COMMA”

Student #3 will say “the eye witnesses at the crime scene”

Student #4 will hold up a comma and say, “COMMA”

Student #5 will say “and the employees at Stop and Shop”

Student #6 will hold up the period and say “PERIOD”

Step 4: After the volunteers have practiced and performed the sentence for the class, challenge groups of students to create sentences using the same pattern as the model. 

In this case, the model is: proper noun + verb + a series of adjective/noun/phrase combinations. 

Be sure to emphasize that each sentence must contain two commas and one period.

Here is a group sentence created using the above model:

“Trevor Locke ran through the door (COMMA)dropped his bag on the floor (COMMA), and headed for the basement (PERIOD).

What a visually-rich sentence! Don’t you want to find out why Trevor was in such a hurry? I sure do.

Parallel structure used to be a difficult sentence pattern to teach, but since this activity involves students in designing sentences, presenting them, and listening to them, this sophisticated sentence structure is much easier for students to master.

Many students have told me that they hear the word "comma" in their heads while they are constructing their sentences. 

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