Kung Fu kids laying literacy foundations

Foundation students at Mitcham Primary School are practicing Kung Fu Punctuation to hit their literacy goals

As part of literacy development program, Mitcham Primary School has introduced an unusual but effective way to teach their younger students about punctuation – Kung Fu Punctuation.

The school knew their students were capable of doing better than their NAPLAN results indicated, and wanted to see them reach their full potential in writing.

Leaders introduced a whole-school, consistent approach to reading and writing that meant students can build on consolidating their skills, instead of learning a new method each year.

Kung Fu Punctuation is one of the earliest building blocks of the school’s focus on literacy and consistent approach to teaching.

‘You can see that they know, even in prep, what the punctuation symbols mean and they’re experimenting with that punctuation,’ says Deb Williamson, Year 3/4 coordinator.

Prep student Jack says: ‘My favourite punctuation is exclamation mark, because it has feeling in it, so if you said ‘I’m very excited’ with an exclamation mark you should say ‘I’m very excited!’’.

What is Kung Fu Punctuation?

Kung Fu punctuation is an activity where the children get up and act out or feel what it’s like to do the punctuation.

A teacher or ‘sensei’ leads the class to Kung Fu music, and asks the students to use the different punctuations.

They have a series of moves that they use to respond to prompts from the teacher, allowing them to physically experiment with the punctuation.

Why does it work?

Kung Fu Punctuation helps the students to identify punctuation marks. Students get a kinaesthetic awareness of what punctuation is, which helps them learn what the punctuation symbols are and what they mean.

Understanding punctuation helps students to identify punctuation marks in their reading, which in turn sees them begin to introduce it into their writing.

Learning to speak with punctuation also helps students start to use it in their writing from a young age, and supports their understanding of whole language.

Gaining this basic understanding of punctuation and whole language in Prep means this language and understanding can be built upon, year-on-year, in a consistent way, improving student literacy outcomes. 

Supporting literacy and numeracy at your school

More practical advice and high-impact teaching strategies are available to all Victorian teachers through the Literacy Teaching Toolkit in areas across reading, writing and speaking and listening. To start using the toolkit, see: Literacy Teaching Toolkit

For more evidence-based approaches, case studies and programs to supporting literacy, see: Victorian Literacy Portal

Supporting FISO priorities: Excellence in teaching and learning

Effective teaching is the single biggest determinant of student improvement in the school. While every school is at a different stage of development and operates within a unique context and with a diverse student cohort and staff profile, there is a substantive evidence base about the common teaching practices that have the greatest impact on student outcomes.

The Literacy Teaching Toolkit hands schools a number of pedagogical strategies found to have a high impact on student learning.

To learn more about this priority and its supporting dimensions, see: Excellence in teaching and learning