Compounds, Contractions, & Possessives=Fun and Games

17 Jan

Confusion is common for kids facing a new lesson, or a more complicated skill. My daughter immediately begins saying she doesn’t understand. Geez! She hasn’t even given me a chance to explain the lesson before that look comes over her face. I know she wants to shut me out without giving it a try. If I am not careful, frustration is next and then you know what happens after frustration hits…yep, she gives up!

Do your kids ever get confused when working with contractions and possessives? Sometimes kids confuse contractions with compound words where the words are joined together to form new words.


Possessive words can confuse kids because many times they look similar to contractions. Because of the easy confusion, it is always a good idea to include both in various spelling lessons in order to teach the difference between the two.

Look at these examples:

Possessive using an apostrophe:
The dog’s collar is new. (singular, one dog)
The dogs’ collars are new.(plural possessive)

Possessive without an apostrophe:
 Its collar is new.
 Her necklace is new.

 Contraction of two words such as:
it and is; is and not; I and would
 It’s a new collar.
The collar isn’t new.
 I’d like a new collar.


If your children are a little more cooperative than my sweet girl, head off any frustration they might experience by letting  them play online games to help learn to correctly use contractions, compounds,  and possessives. Fun seems to squelch frustration pretty quickly, and you win because they learn an important skill without shedding a tear.


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4 responses to “Compounds, Contractions, & Possessives=Fun and Games

  1. quaintscribbles

    January 22, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    I agree about the blackboard and worksheets being boring. I love that there are so many great educational games available to kids today. Yes, I bet it will be a bit of a challenge to get and keep their attention when they become teens. HA HA Wonder what type of new technology will be around then to draw them back in???

  2. Denise Gabbard

    January 22, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    They do have incredible ways to learn, thank goodness. I think with all the video games and other technology they have, they would get bored very quickly with a blackboard and worksheets. I know that my grandkids are still really young, (6, 8, and 9) and they respond really well to online learning games… I imagine as they get to be teenagers getting their undivided attention will be harder.

  3. quaintscribbles

    January 17, 2012 at 6:49 PM

    Ulrike, I totally agree with you about kids today having incredible opportunities. I wish a tenth of what they have today was around when we were growing up.

    Thanks for commenting, I appreciate your thoughts!

  4. Ulrike Rettig, Ph.D. (@Games4Language)

    January 17, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    I sure agree: “Fun seems to squelch frustration pretty quickly …” When I learned English (as a teenager) possessives and contractions really got me confused. I really had trouble with contractions of pronouns and verbs (such as your examples “your/you’re” and “its/it’s”). The tough thing about those is that they sound the same. I was amazed to find out that native speakers of English (adults as well as kids) find these difficult too. I also had trouble getting used to contractions with the negative (“don’t” “can’t” “isn’t”). It took my a while to understand that “don’t” and “do not” are different “messages,” and kids would mimic my “serious” tone. At that time, I learned the rules of English the old-fashioned way, with sentence diagrams and memorization. Having some fun with Internet games would have been great. This generation of learners has incredible opportunities!


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