In KS1 children are required to use commas to punctuate lists. Once they enter KS2, the 2014 National Curriculum begins to introduce the idea that commas can be used to punctuate other units of grammatical meaning within a sentence. All of a sudden, using commas becomes tricky. Here, we discuss a few ways to ease the pain when teaching how to use commas with clauses.
Use key grammatical terminology
The big problem children have with commas is knowing where to put them! Punctuating lists with commas is fairly straightforward (see our post on commas in lists) but knowing where to use commas to mark where one clause ends and another begins is quite another story. Start at the beginning and ensure that they are able to identify the verb in simple sentences.
I wore my boots.
It was raining.
The cat was sleeping.
The mouse grabbed a snack.
If they’re not able to do this with ease, then once you start asking them to add commas to mark clauses in complex sentences they’re going to get in a punctuation pickle. Our Is it a Sentence? game is good for this, just ensure you reinforce the fact that a simple sentence is a clause, and every clause has to have a verb.