To many children, the rules and conventions of direct speech are an unfathomable challenge of where and when to use commas, inverted commas, full stops and capital letters. Enter the humble knock, knock joke.
First off, knock, knock jokes feature two speakers, so there’s no need to contrive an awkward conversation for children to ‘turn into speech’. Secondly, the page layout mirrors the rules of dialogue with a new line for each line of the joke. And thirdly, children like knock, knock jokes.
This resource sheet uses a small-steps approach to slowly scaffold children through the rules and conventions of dialogue. In the first instance pupils are simply asked to rewrite knock, knock jokes in speech bubbles.
Once they’ve got the hang of this, they should then be encouraged to write the name of the speaker and ‘said’ before each speech bubble. The second level asks pupils write each line of the knock, knock joke using inverted commas.
Each example on this sheet starts with the reporting clause before the dialogue, which enables pupils to practise adding a comma after the reporting clause.
Additionally, pupils are also encouraged to use a range of synonyms for said at this point. Once secure in setting out and punctuating direct speech with the reporting clause before the dialogue, pupils should then be shown how to add the reporting clause after the dialogue.
This means learning to use a comma before the closing inverted commas and not capitalising the first word after the inverted commas – unless, of course, it’s a name. So many rules!