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Contraction Action: Common Contractions and When to Use Them 

Subject: English

Grade: 3

Lesson Objective: Students will identify common contractions and know when to use them.

Common Core StandardCCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.2.2.C

Use an apostrophe to form contractions and frequently occurring possessives.


  • 1 Prepared set of Legos for each group (groups should consist of 3-5 students). A prepared set of Legos includes multiple Legos. For each set of words, you should write the contraction on a big block in a permanent marker, find two smaller blocks that equal the same length when combined, and write one of the base words on each.
    • For example, use a block six long and write the contraction "shouldn't." On a block that is four long, you write "should," and on a block that is two long, you write "not."
    • You can use any contractions you'd like your class to learn, but here are 15 common ones:
      • Is not (isn't)
      • Are not (aren't)
      • Was not (wasn't)
      • Does not (doesn't)
      • Do not (don't)
      • Did not (didn't)
      • Has not (hasn't)
      • Had not (hadn't)
      • Will not (won't)
      • Should not (shouldn't)
      • Could not (couldn't)
      • It is (it's)
      • There is (there's)
      • You are (you're)
      • You will (you'll)
  • A classroom setup allows group work with a shared workspace in the middle.
  • Pencil and paper for Extension Activity for fast finishing groups.
  • Exit Ticket.


  • Ask students, "What is a shortcut?"
  • Discuss types of shortcuts people take.
  • Say, "We are going to learn about contractions today, which is a shortcut we use when we talk."


Now that you have talked about your topic, it's time to teach contractions as a group. When you feel the class is ready for the application, you can split them into smaller groups. 

Whole Group:

  1. Write the contractions you want your class to learn on the board. Have students read them aloud.
  2. Discuss the words that make up each. Give an example of when you could use the contraction in conversation. Ask students to raise their hands and provide their example of a contraction (call on one or two for each contraction).
  3. Talk about how to identify contractions, how to create contractions, and how to say contractions. Saying contractions may be difficult for younger kids, but it is important to feel confident when speaking with contractions. 
  4. Tell the class you will break them into small groups so they can keep working with these contractions together.

Smaller Groups:

  1. Break the class into groups and give each a prepared set of Legos.
  2. Direct each group to find the pairs of contractions and the words that make up that contraction.
  3. Students should connect the Legos when they find a pair. There should be no leftover pieces when all contractions are made correctly. Students should work collaboratively in their groups to find the correct pairs.
  4. Students should put the contraction sets in a pile to complete the pairs. Have them pull one contraction out of the pile, and have each student in the group give an example sentence using the contraction. When each student has given an example of that contraction, tell students to put it off to the side and take another set from the pile. They should continue this process until they have worked their way through all of the contraction sets.

Extension Activity:

Some groups will inevitably finish quicker than others. When a group has completed the activity, students should list other contractions they can think of or ones that they've heard. They should consider what word pairs may make up the contraction and write these down to discuss later as a whole group. They can then try to use the contractions they come up with in other sentences or examples.

Individual (Feedback):

Use an Exit Ticket to assess students' individual ability to utilize skills practiced during the lesson. An exit ticket is a small activity or mini worksheet that asks students to use their skills. The teacher collects them to get out the door at the end of the day.

Future instruction, extra help, and extension activities are determined based on the review of the class Exit Tickets. They are a quick and easy way to know when your students have "got it."

Exit Ticket Idea:

Have a list of three contractions in a column on the left-hand side of the page and the word pairs that make them up in a column on the right side (not in the correct order). Have students draw lines to connect the contraction and word pairs. 

At the bottom of the page, ask students to write their own example of a contraction and the matching word pairs.

Written by Jackie Sugrue
Education World Contributor
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