Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about contractions. It is designed to complement the Contractions topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Remind your children that a contraction is a word formed by combining two or more words and leaving out sounds or letters. Review that an apostrophe is a punctuation mark used in contractions to identify where the missing letters or sounds are. This movie covers many different contractions, but there are several that are not addressed directly. After screening the movie and completing the features, we encourage you and your children to explore more contractions together. We also highly recommend watching the movie multiple times, while showing the closed captioning. Annie uses many contractions as she speaks and it will be helpful for children to read along and look for contractions throughout the movie. To access the closed captions, click on the CC icon at the bottom right side of the movie page.

Write a sentence together using do not, as in “I do not like peas.” Review with your children that in order to form a contraction, they first join the words do and not. Then they take out the o and replace it with an apostrophe to form don’t, as in “I don’t like peas.” The apostrophe in a contraction always goes where the missing letters or sounds are. Continue the same way to form other contractions that use the word not, such as doesn’t, haven’t, hadn’t, couldn’t, isn’t, and shouldn’t. You may also want to reverse the process by showing them a sentence with a contraction and asking them to break it down. Then write a sentence together using will not, as in “I will not eat peas.” Remind your children that the contraction for will not is irregular: “I won’t eat peas.” Some children may notice that “willn’t” does not sound correct. Encourage them to say a contraction out loud before spelling it.

There are many contractions used with pronouns. To form contractions with the words am and are, join the pronoun and the word together and take out the a or a-r.

I + am = I’m

you + are = you’re

they + are = they’re

we + are = we’re

To form contractions with is, join the pronoun and the word together and take out the i.

she + is = she’s

he + is = he’s

it + is = it’s

To form contractions with the words has, have, and had, join the pronoun and the word together, and take out h-a. Brainstorm different sentences and contractions that follow this rule, including the following:

we + have = we’ve

I + have = I’ve

he + had = he’d

she + had = she’d

would + have = would’ve

could + have = could’ve

she + has = she’s

he + has = he’s

It may be helpful to point out that the contractions above cannot be used in the present tense. For example, we would not use a contraction in the sentence “She has three dollars.” Therefore, these contractions must always be followed by a verb in the past tense, as in “He’d followed the dog home after school.” Challenge your children to come up with more contractions that use has, have, and had or look through books and magazines together to find different examples.

Some children may notice that she’s can be a contraction for she has or she is, or that he’d can be a contraction for he had or he would. While the contractions might look the same, they have different meanings. You may wish to give an example, such as “She’s gone to the zoo.” What does the contraction mean? Encourage children to “break down” (or expand) the contraction and say it out loud. It does not make sense to say “She is gone to the zoo.”

Explain to your children that people use contractions in informal speech quite often. Encourage them to listen carefully and spell the contractions in their head or write them down when they notice them. Discuss the use of contractions in writing. How does it change the tone or feel of a piece of writing? Contractions imbue writing with an informal, casual mood. As a result, contractions should not be used in formal letters or speeches.

There are many contractions to learn, but the easiest way to remember them is to read! Surround your children with books and magazines and encourage them to read actively. This means taking notes, asking questions while reading, and writing down new words, including unfamiliar contractions. Arm them with the skills needed to be lifelong active readers and writers.