Conversation Carwash
Primary Market
Education, Primary Ed
Character Focus
Items Needed
1 Toobeez set, 2-3 sheets of posterboard, markers, classroom novels, tape, chart paper
The Activity Time
20 minutes


  • Recognize dialogue in writing
  • Punctuate dialogue appropriately
  • Discuss and reflect on the experience
Character Focus
The Challenge
Students will punctuate dialogue by using the Toobeez Conversation Carwash.
Time: 12 minutes


  • 1 Toobeez set
  • 2-3 sheets of posterboard
  • markers
  • classroom novels
  • tape
  • chart paper


  • Build a “Conversation Carwash” (refer class and pairs to photo).
  • Copy the dialogue in Step #3 on chart paper without the punctuation.
  • Use posterboard to create large opening and closing quotations, a comma, a period, an exclamation point and a question mark.
Activity Plan

Time: 20 minutes

Space: Medium

Instruction: Whole class and pairs

Helpful Hints

  • Be sure to review these tips prior to beginning the activity, and if necessary, share reminders with the group during the activity.
  • Prior to the lesson, duplicate the examples in Step #3 on chart paper or on the blackboard to save time

Activity Instructions

1. Circle up the group.

Discuss the role of dialogue in writing and reading stories. Ask the students, “Why is dialogue important?” and “When should we use dialogue?” Discuss with students what happens if dialogue is overused. Teacher Note: Dialogue should be used sparingly and only to advance the story or reveal relevant information.

2. Review these punctuation marks and terms with the group before beginning the activity.

* Quotation marks (“ ”) are used around a character’s exact words.
* Speaker tags (he said, Carla responded, said the teacher) are used before, within, or after the direct character quotations. Speaker tags should include descriptive words and phrases that direct action.
* A comma is used in most instances to separate the speaker tag from the quote. Review the examples to determine its placement.
* Exclamation points, periods and question marks associated with a quote are placed inside the quotation marks.
* Every time the speaker changes, remember to indent each new line of dialogue.

3. Review this example, omitting punctuation, on chart paper.
Example (notice the indents for each new speaker):

Mitch said, “My favorite food is pizza.”
“I agree,” Jackie responded. “My favorite toppings are
sausage and mushrooms!”
“Not me,” disagreed Samantha. “I prefer Sicilian slices. What
about you, Christine?”
“Well,” Christine stated, “I don’t like many toppings. I really like
plain slices best!”

4. Read aloud the following Activity Challenge Box to the group.
Challenge: Students will punctuate dialogue by using the Toobeez Conversation Carwash.

5. Using the example sentences, “punctuate” them using the Conversation Carwash. Have one student read aloud each dialogue line. The student should read the written words, as well as the names of the punctuation marks as he or she comes across them. For example, the first line should be read as follows: Mitch said, comma, open quotes, ”My favorite food is pizza‘ period, close quotes.

6. As the student is reading the line of dialogue, another student is to “act out” what is being read. View the action that corresponds to each part being read below:

Conversation Carwash

7. Refer to photos on the following page for additional information.

8. Have volunteers read each quotation line in the same manner, and have other volunteers act out exactly what is being read.

9. With a partner, have students select a unique quotation line from a classroom novel and record it on a piece of paper. Then have students act out their selected line for the class.

10. After the activity, move to the “Activity Discussion and Processing” section of the activity.

Step 1  In pairs, one student “acts out” the dialogue (Student A) while the other recites the quotation (Student B). Student A is on the left and Student B is on the right here.

Step 1
In pairs, one student “acts out” the dialogue (Student A) while the other recites the quotation (Student B). Student A is on the left and Student B is on the right here.

Step 2  Student B says “Mitch said” Student A attaches Mitch said to the Speaker Tag tube.

Step 2
Student B says “Mitch said” Student A attaches Mitch said to the Speaker Tag tube.

Step 3 (below)
Student B says “comma, open quotes”
Student A attaches the comma and open quotations to the Conversation Carwash then steps inside.
Student B says “My favorite food is pizza.”
Student A repeats this sentence inside the Carwash.
Student B says “exclamation point, close quotes”
Student A attaches the exclamation point and closing quotations and exits the Carwash.

Conversation Carwash3
Conversation Carwash4


  • Students worked cooperatively in pairs and participated in the class discussion
  • Students accurately read and acted out samples of dialogue
  • Teacher observed good student work

Here are available Training Options!

Activity Discussion and Processing

To close the lesson, end with a group discussion about what was learned during the activity. Circle up the group, and work through the following questions. If possible, record the group’s responses on flip chart paper so all comments are displayed.
  • Why is punctuating dialogue important?
  • What role do you feel dialogue should play in a good story?
  • Why is dialogue important for communicating with others?
  • How did using the Toobeez help you to see the right way to punctuate dialogue?
  • Do you feel you learn better by seeing and doing something yourself?
  • What challenge(s) did you face in trying to communicate in this activity?

Activity Variations

1. Have a conversation.
Build two Conversation Carwashes. When students have free time (perhaps when finished with another class assignment), have small groups of students write a conversation between each other and then act out the conversation.
Author of the Toobeez Language Arts Activity Workbook and Independent Writing Consultant. Anderson Editorial Services is a company dedicated to providing writing services for creative, informational and educational writing. Whether developing, editing, formatting or proofreading, Anderson Editorial is committed to producing the highest quality of writing.
All Activities of Victoria Anderson, M.Ed.

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