Contraction Surgery

Written by: Katrina Cavagna

Are your students having trouble identifying where to place the apostrophe inside of their contractions? Are they just not “getting” contractions in general? Are you looking for something extremely fun that may actually stick in their minds for more than one class period? Try Contraction Surgery!


Contraction handout students completed after the lesson.


So I have to admit, I had way more fun with this lesson than I ever imagined was possible. I bought a low-end pair of nurse’s scrubs, $5.00 stethoscope and colorful band-aids from Amazon, then borrowed latex gloves from the school cafeteria and masks from the nurse! In total, I spent about $30.00 for this lesson that I’ll be able to use again, and again, and again…


Intrigued? Here’s the scoop on how to pull this lesson off!

First, print off a bunch of words that can be made into contractions. Don’t want to create your own? Download the printable here. Cut each word group out into strips. Then, on easel paper, write in large letters “Contraction Surgery” (hopefully your handwriting is better than mine!). Display the easel paper at the front of the room either on an easel stand or on the whiteboard.

Desk Arrangements

I arranged my desks into groups of four. I want my students to have more practice collaborating on in-class activities. This lesson could be done individually. It’s entirely up to you and the needs of your specific students. You know best! At each group of desks or desk, place the same number of bandaids as there will be “patients” or groups of words that the students will be making into contractions.


If you want to make the lesson really fun and engaging for the kids, have each student put on a pair of latex gloves (check for allergies!) and a mask as they enter the room. With my groups of four, I had the students choose one of their groupmates to be the doctor, and that student was the only one to get completely dressed up (saving some class time). The other members of the group were assistants to the doctor.


On display when the students entered the room!

Introducing… Doctor Teacher!

I informed the class that I had had an occupation change overnight, and that I had received many new patients in the ER. I needed their help to perform multiple surgeries to save patients’ lives. They giggled a bit, some were in awe of my costume, and others were eager to get going. We went over what contractions were on the board (this was a 7th grade group, so they had had prior experience with contractions).

Let the incisions begin…

I then passed out a strip of words for each student. Each student was in charge of placing the “incision” with their scissors in the correct place to create the contraction. They had to problem solve together to determine what letters needed to be taken out during the surgery. Then, they had to open up their colorful band-aid and determine where the apostrophe should be placed in order to “stitch the patient” back up. Only the designated doctor of each group could perform the final surgery, but they needed their assistant to help them place the band-aid on the easel paper at the front of the room.


These were some messy surgeries! However, the hands-on approach of this lesson allowed students struggling with the apostrophe placement in a contraction. Winning! 

Clean up the “body parts”…

What a BLAST! The kids were talking about this lesson for days afterward, and the Contractions practice worksheet I gave them afterward really highlighted which students were going to need one-on-one instruction on this topic. In total, the lesson lasted twenty minutes and we had time to read from our favorite class novel!

Don’t have time to make the materials for this lesson? Get them from my TeachersPayTeachers store here.

The Journey Begins

The strangest thing happened to me over the past few months. I started receiving subtle (and not so subtle) hints to get writing again. Ever since beginning my teaching career, the time I was dedicating to writing had dwindled down to nothing. After performing lessons (yes, you read that right) each day, I was coming home too exhausted to try to dream up something good to write about.

Yet, I kept getting nudges from the Universe to get writing. I received a message from an old friend I hadn’t spoken to in years, inquiring if I had done any writing lately. I kept having articles and blog posts popping up on my social media accounts with tips on how to get started with writing. Finally, one night I woke up from a vivid dream in which I wandered around the woods and eventually came upon… a typewriter. I couldn’t ignore my subconscious any longer!

It was hard at first to think of the content I would write about. This was mainly because I was thinking too hard, trying too much to be a people-pleaser (one of my flaws). As I was creating a lesson for back to school this year, I had a sudden epiphany that I could write about teaching. I know there are countless educators out there who are experiencing the same trials and tribulations as I am when it comes to teaching in today’s political climate. Thus, The Genius Educator was born.

I hope you enjoy the content that I rustle up for you all, and I pray that it helps ease your way through the school year. I plan to support educators so that we all can keep our passion for teaching alive through even the most difficult times!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton