Remembering to use capital letters when writing can be tough for our little friends (Well, and some big friends we know too, but we won't go there...). No matter how much we
cram, shove, beg, instruct, model or encourage, most of them just could care less forget.
It is an area we know the teachers we pass the torch to appreciate having in place from the get go, but it is one we hear concerns about from teachers as late as 5th grade (maybe longer, we just never make it out of our elementary cave). We notice it all the time with our own kids at home (soon to be 3rd and 5th graders. tear.sniff.) too.
When the writing gets flowin', the capitals aren't showin'.
Our Firsties are supposed to come to us from Kindergarten capitalizing the beginning of sentences and when using the pronoun I. We are to reinforce those skills and add the capitalization of dates and names of people. These are tall orders for little ones who are just beginning to write.
To encourage our friends to capitalize on capitals, we give our Coool Cats "Cool Blue Capitals" pens to help them remember those large letters when writing!
Early in the year, we introduce this fun writing procedure on Cool Blue Capital Day. We leave a pair of sunglasses and a pen at each student's desk before writing time.
We give each student one of these blue felt pens to keep with their supplies on Cool Blue Capital Day, but any blue pen would work. :)
We found these cool sunglasses through orientaltrading.com which we love because they go along with our ocean theme and are cool bright colors ~ very cool!
We review the wheres and whys of capital letters and all sport our shades to drive home the cool factor.
We can't help but channel our inner 80's valley girl voices, which was cool, back in the day. We teach them words like tubular and radical and play our favorite 80's tunes in the background, for purely selfish reasons.
Once we're feeling cool enough, everyone grabs their Cool Blue pens for journal writing.
Each time they need to use a capital, they are to switch to use their cool blue pen. It takes some practice, but most of them get it down pretty quick.
We have found, this physical switching of writing tools helps train their brains to use those capitals more regularly.
We know what you might ask ~
Does anyone ever "forget" and write their entire sentence or story with the pen?
Yes, sometimes but not as often as we'd expect. Annnnd, as we all know every class is different. So some years we are cool as cucumbers from the get go, and other years... well we need a lil' longer cool blue training.
How do we handle those friends that over extend their coolness?
First time, we have a chat.
It is a good assessment opportunity to see if they are truly not understanding or just displaying their own level of perceived coolness ~ Aka, I'm cooler than you teacher. Let me show you how I can use this pen in the exact opposite manner in which you demonstrated ten times.
If we have repeat offenders, then we are firm believers in natural consequences, so they lose their cool blue for the day. Not so cool anymore~
They usually don't like not having their Cool Blue, and that nips their over use and reaffirms our coolness under pressure. :)
Cool Blue Capitals have worked for us. We use them as long as the kids need the support. Some years, we take them away and they don't notice or care. Other years, we keep them for the entire year. It just depends on what they each need, but they help the kids remember, and it keeps us cool with teachers of older grades in the lounge. :)
So, we're curious...
How do you get your students to remember to use capitals when writing?