Teaching Direct Speech Punctuation using the iPhone text messaging!

Teaching direct speech is always a tricky aspect, there is so much to remember and very few useful visual pictures that clearly help children know what and how to use speech punctuation properly.

Lets look at some of the tips to remember:

  • The words that are spoken have to go within the speech marks.
  • Any punctuation needs to also go inside the speech marks.
  • A reporting clause, who and how they said it can go before, middle or end.
  • A comma follows the reporting clause at the beginning.
  • You need to start a new line when a new character speaks. 
I think that is most of them??

I have heard of endless different ways to try and get children to remember these tips - keeping the sheeps in the pen or speech mark sandwich which are a couple of examples however they do not have any visual help for tips such as starting on a new line, which is something some of my children find hardest to remember. 

I decided to use a different approach, to help cover the aspects of correctly punctuating speech through text messaging. Well, not literally text messaging but the idea of text messaging.

iphonetextgenerator, ifaketext.com, fakephonetext.com,  - are websites that allow you to write a conversation between two people and it will generate a screenshot of the conversation as if it was a text message on an iPhone. Like this example:

I personally think this is a great visual picture that the children can use to help then punctuate speech. 
The clearly see that:  
  • The words spoken in the bubble have to go inside the speech marks including the punctuation. 
  • They also clearly see that every time a different character speaks they have to start a new line. 
  • The reporting clause can go before or after the speech bubble.
 This is also something the children are probably used to seeing. Here would be the translation in the children's books:

“What big eyes you have?” Asked Red Riding Hood.
The wolf replied, “all the better for seeing you with!” 
“What big teeth you have?” questioned Red.
“All the better to EAT YOUR WITH!!!” Screamed the Wolf.

Some real examples:

With the Year 4 class, we put together a conversation between two other teachers, the messaging screen looked like this:

The children then used this to write the conversation as direct speech, I was so impressed by their efforts and how quickly they could pick it up: 

As a lesson we looked at making some of our own fake text screens of conversations between characters from different books. 

The children then had to use the pictures to help correctly punctuate the speech in their books. It seemed to work really well and the children found punctuation their work much easier by using these visuals.


  1. iPhone applications have attracted most today among the mobile apps platforms. Fantastic post. Well thought out and well informed.

    iphone programming

  2. thanks for share..

  3. A great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Brilliant idea...how would you differentiate it for HA/LA pupils?

  5. really good way for kids to have fun while writing. Good.

  6. Good idea!
    I will definitely try in my class tomorrow.


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