Tag Archive: contractions

Contraction Surgery

IMG_0407I’ve been noticing with my 1st graders we’ve been having a lot of troubles while reading when we come to contractions.  Students say, “it is” when we see “it’s” or “do not” when we see “didn’t”.  Sometimes we’ll even get something a little more wonky like “didn’t not”.  I’ve done some word work with contractions, but it hasn’t really stuck.  I decided to do something with these 1st graders that I did with my 1st graders about 6 years ago–contraction surgery.

IMG_0419Students each got their own surgical mask, gloves, and “scalpel” AKA scissors.  We turned words into contractions by taking out the letters we didn’t need, “stitching them back up” (gluing them to the paper), and giving them a “surgery scar” (AKA the apostrophe).

We did a couple of examples together and then students were able to do 5 of them at their own pace with my support as needed.  They LOVED this and I think it helped because I haven’t noticed as much of the issues when reading as I have previously noticed.

They were extra excited because they got to keep all of their surgical gear AND I called each of them doctor. 🙂



My 1st graders have really been struggling with contractions when we come to them in books.  If the word is can’t they say can not.  If the word is can not they say can’t.  The same with I am and I’m.  I was looking for a way I could really help my 1st graders remember contraction.

I had briefly read online about contraction surgery.  There wasn’t any information or details so I kind of just had to run with it.  I work part time for an orthodontist and I was able to get some surgical masks and exam gloves for each of the kids in my group.  The day before this activity we worked on turning I am into I’m, do not into don’t, and can not into can’t.

Today I played it up like we were all doctors.  I greeted each student as Dr. (first name).  I asked them to suit up for surgery and they all got super excited.  It was a lot of fun seeing the kids put on their gloves and their masks.  Some jumped up and down and some clapped.  From there I handed them their “doctor tools” and asked them to prepared for surgery.  They were each given “scalpel scissors”, “scar markers” and glue (I didn’t have a clever name for that.)

We started with the easiest work I am.  Students had to cut in between I and am.  I asked them what letter they would need to surgically remove to make I’m.  Once they had gotten rid of the ‘a’ we then had to glue ‘I’ and ‘m’ together.  We used our “scar marker” to give the new word a little “scar mark” or apostrophe where we put it back together.  They were then supposed to write the 2 words we used to make the contraction.  We did this for can not and do not.

This was so much fun.  Students were clapping after each “successful surgery” and saying, “Good job, Dr. (first name)” to each other.  It was absolutely adorable.  Some students struggled with different portions of the contraction surgery, but they really came together as a team to help each other figure out the parts.  I’m hoping after 3 successful surgeries the students will read these a lot more accurately when they come to them in group.