Friday, January 13, 2012

Contractions Down on the Farm

My son reads books with contractions all the time and comprehends the meaning of the story. But strangely enough, he doesn’t know diddley about what the contractions are short for. So I got busy trying to find a way to make this grammar lesson fun.

Denise from Sunny Days in Second Grade provided the inspiration for this activity with her
Creepy Contractions post.

I have to also give credit to Brian P. Cleary, the author of the children’s book series Words Are CATegorical. The first time I shared one of his books with my son was during our Noun Clown activity. It was a hit so I knew I’m and Won’t, They’re and Don’t: What’s a Contraction? wouldn’t disappoint.

I was right. The text was not only explanatory, but also whimsical and rhythmic. It was a great introduction to contractions!

After reading, I added two small pieces of packing tape to the windows of a barn I’d designed in Microsoft Publisher and printed on heavyweight cardstock. Download the contractions barn here.

Then I gave it to my son to color.

Afterwards, I used an Exacto knife and a straight edge to cut along all the dotted lines and scored and folded open the barn doors.

Then I cut two pieces of office paper into strips. The strips need to be slightly narrower than if you’d cut the paper in half. Tape them together end to end, to make one very long strip.
Now weave the strip through the slits on either side of the barn and fold open the barn doors. Grab a fine-tip dry-erase marker and give your child a pencil. You’re ready to start practicing contractions.

I used a list of contractions I found here. I added two words to the barn, one to each tape-covered window with the dry-erase marker. It was up to my son to figure out what letters to kick out and replace with an apostrophe to transform the two words into one contraction.

When he was done with that contraction, I used a paper towel to erase the dry-erase words, added new words, and he pulled the paper until the space behind the barn doors was blank.

My son caught on quick and was super excited with each contraction he made!


  1. Thanks for sharing, we were just working on them last night with my 5 year old daughter and I thought I needed to make a game to help her understand. Can't wait to play this with her!

  2. This is such a cute idea! I love the barn.

  3. Very cute idea! I can see my students doing this activity and loving it! We studied contractions this week and performed a little surgery. :)

  4. What a FUN & creative way to teach contractions!! LOVE it! Thanks for linking up to TGIF! See you next week,
    Beth =-)

  5. Such a good idea!!! I'm impressed with your creativity in helping your child learn. He is lucky to have such a great mama :) Thanks so much for sharing this with us on Sharing Saturday.


  6. We aren't on contractions yet, but I'm pinning this for the future!

  7. I'm so glad I pinned this on Pinterest! We've been doing a lit. unit on If You Give A Mouse Cookie, and I wanted to include an activity on contractions. I wanted to do it today, so I hopped on over to print it out. Thanks so much!

    I did modify it a little. Instead of putting paper under the barn doors, I just taped the barn to a small white board so my son could write and erase. Worked great!

  8. When I clicked on this link in Thrifty Thursday, I KNEW it would be awesome. And as usual, you don't disappoint! Pinning this, I can use this with my own daughter when she is older, or with speech students. I'm thinking this barn could have MANY uses. Thanks for sharing your inspiring ideas with us all at Thrifty Thursday, have a fantastic weekend!

  9. This is such a great and fun idea! I'm going to look for this book and try your activity. I'm featuring this post at AfterSchool later today. Thanks for sharing!