Is there any joy when teaching apostrophes? Certainly! The only thing is that the joy doesn’t come from disseminating worksheets to kids… it comes from using books to demonstrate the concept.
A couple of weeks ago I received a review copy of Wiggens Learns His Manners at the Four Seasons Restaurant by Leslie McGuirk and Alex Von Bidder. As I started to turn the pages, I noticed the adorable illustrations, complete with dialogue bubbles that enhance the text. However, a few pages in, I was smacked in the face with the way this book could be used as a teaching tool. This book is excellent for teaching kids how to use a possessive apostrophe in context.
I’m sure you’ve all taught students who did one of the following two things:
a) Added an apostrophe before the s in any word that ended in an s.
b) Put the apostrophe in the wrong place with a word that ended in an s, thereby not showing proper possession.
If you have students who are doing this, then having a conference with this text in your hand, after you’ve read it aloud to the full class, would provide you with an abundance of examples for how authors use apostrophes to show possession. Here are a few examples:
Sentences where the authors did not use apostrophes, with words that end in s, since there was no need to show possession:
–> Wiggens is a chocolate Labrador puppy and was a total rascal when it came to manners.
–> His dad told him that dogs from all over the world come to practice their manners at the Four Seasons.
–> Wiggens and the other puppies sat down at a table next to the pool.
Sentences where the authors used an apostrophe, with a word that ended in s, to show possession:
–> When the Saint Bernard arrived, he shook Wiggens’s paw.
–> Be respectful of others’ tastes, though they may differ from your own, and always be willing to take a bite of something new.
–> Wiggens’s Lesson #10
There are many more teachable parts of this book. I’ve selected just this one since I know that many kids struggle with possessive apostrophe use, especially when words end in s! Therefore, since the main character’s name is Wiggens there are many concrete examples to show your students how to use the possessive apostrophe, with a name, in this text. A definite conferring must-have!
WIGGENS LEARNS HIS MANNERS AT THE FOUR SEASONS RESTAURANT. Text copyright © 2009 by Leslie McGuirk and Alex Von Bidder. Illustrations copyright © 2009 by Leslie McGuirk. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.
I am a literacy consultant who has spent over a decade working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grade K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).