Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Don't Eat Your Words

Farica King
Santa Rosa District Schools


Using different shapes of macaroni dyed various colors, students work in pairs to apply knowledge of punctuation rules to sentences.


The student uses conventions of punctuation (including but not limited to commas, colons, semicolon, quotation marks, apostrophes).


- Chart paper
- List of sentences for each cooperative group
- Dyed macaroni (see directions below)
- Elbow macaroni dyed blue for quotation marks
- Elbow macaroni dyed red for the comma
- Squiggly macaroni dyed green for exclamation points
- Star shaped macaroni dyed yellow for the period
- Chart paper with several sentences written on it prior to the beginning of class (to be used as example)
- Chart paper for students use
- Glue
- One copy per student of the Cooperative Worker Rating Checklist (see associated file)


1. Gather chart paper for student pairs.
2. Locate list of sentences for each group. (Use sentences from English text or teacher made worksheets.)
3. Purchase and dye various shapes of macaroni.
-To dye macaroni: Place two teaspoons of rubbing alcohol along with a few drops of food coloring in a ziplock bag. Place macaroni in bag and toss around until desired color is achieved.)
4. Write several sentences on chart paper to be used as example.
5. Download Cooperative Worker Rating Checklist and make one copy for each student.
6. Assign students a partner.
7. Place glue near where students will be working.


(This lesson ideally should follow a unit on quotation marks.)Prior to the beginning of class, assign students a partner.

1. Discuss and review how quotation marks are used in dialogue.

2. Using the chart paper with sample sentences already written on it, have students direct the teacher as to where quotation marks, commas and ending punctuation should be placed.

3. As students correctly identify placement of these marks, glue the appropriate dyed macaroni pieces in place. Show students and explain how each color denotes a particular type of punctuation (see Materials).

4. Provide each pair with a sheet of chart paper and a list of sentences to be written on the chart paper. (This is a great place to use old worksheets or sentences from the English text.)

5. Have students write these sentences on the chart paper.

6. While students are writing, provide each pair with elbow, squiggly and star shaped macaroni and glue.

7. After students have neatly written their sentences on the chart paper, instruct them to glue their macaroni in the appropriate places where commas, quotation marks and correct ending punctuation should be. Circulate and provide feedback to students as needed.

8. Pass out and have students complete the cooperative worker rating checklist. (see associated file)

9. Collect student sentences and assess for correct use of conventions of punctuation.

10. Also collect the cooperative worker rating checklists and review.


Collect chart paper sentences from each group. Assess for correct use of conventions of punctuation. Use Cooperative Worker Rating Checklist (see associated file) to determine if students have exhibited behaviors of cooperative workers within the group.


Students love this activity. It is especially helpful to students who may reverse their beginning and ending quotation marks. It could be a good review for all punctuation. Truly a great hands-on activity!

Attached Files

File Description: Cooperative Worker Rating Checklist     File Extension: pdf

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