K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • remember that naming words are called nouns and words that show action are called verbs.
  • use a variety of nouns and verbs to write a story about their favorite animal.
  • begin to use adjectives to describe the animal and add interest to their story.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

5 days


  • The book The Mitten by Jan Brett
  • Worksheets with animals from the story (see Animals 1 and Animals 2)
  • Pencils, Crayons or markers, scissors, glue or stapler
  • Lined paper
  • Graphic organizer
  • Paint program on computer

Technology resources

  • Computer (Lab, if available) and printer
  • Smart TV
  • Kidspiration (if available)
  • Overhead projector could also be used


The students will need basic knowledge of:

  • nouns and verbs
  • a computer keyboard
  • animals and how they look and move


  1. This lesson begins with a short discussion of the weather in winter and the kind of clothing that is required for cold weather. The discussion should include the reasons for protection from cold weather.
  2. The lesson progresses with a reading of The Mitten by Jan Brett.
  3. Discuss the reason Nicki was going outside. How did he lose his mitten? The story continues with the mole going into the mitten, followed by the rabbit, hedgehog, owl, badger, fox, bear, and then finally the mouse’s attempt.
  4. Lead the discussion as the children imagine what it must have felt like in the mitten as each animal crowded into it. This leads into describing each animal’s characteristics. This should include adjectives such as soft, prickly, gentle, stiff, scratchy, fuzzy, rough, furry, stickery, feathery, sneaky, pretty, warm, lumpy, big, little, and any others you or your children find appropriate.
  5. The children are then given worksheets (provided in the “put the animals in the mitten” website) with the animal pictures to color and cut out. You will need to print both mittens, one left and one right. These can be glued or stapled together to make a mitten “pocket”. As the children finish coloring and cutting out their animals, they can use these “props” to retell the story in their own words. As they retell the story, encourage them to use the describing words (adjectives) as they introduce each character (animal).
  6. The children will now use the information they have learned and verbalized, to write about their favorite animal from the story. The teacher will model describing an animal using the graphic organizers from the “Kidspiration” software via the Smart TV. (i.e. “A rabbit is soft and furry. It has long, furry ears and long legs. It can hop.”) Each child now needs paper and pencil as they begin to do pre-writing activities. The paper could be blank or pre-printed with helpful circle and tree maps or other similar graphic organizers for pre-writing activities.
  7. The information is now ready to be written in story form. Teacher will monitor the writing encouraging the children to use the adjectives that were used in the verbal activities.
  8. After the story is written and approved by the teacher, the child can go to the computer and type the story there, using the word processing program. When they finish typing their story they can use the paint program to illustrate their story. When every child has had opportunity to type and illustrate their story they can print the story and the pages can be compiled into a class book to be enjoyed by the entire class. This book can also be left in the media center for others to enjoy.


The major part of the assessment for this lesson will be teacher observation, however the children’s writing can also be evaluated by using the writing assessment rubric for first grade. The teacher will observe as the students write.

  • Does the student write using nouns and verbs properly as well as proper punctuation?
  • Does the student begin to use adjectives to describe the animal being written about?
  • Does the student begin to use adjectives in conversation as well as written word?
  • Does the student easily use the keyboard for typing the story that is written?

Supplemental information

This lesson can be expanded to include a comparison of Jan Brett’s “The Mitten” and Alvin Tressalt’s “The Mitten” The latter book is out of print but there are copies still around. Check your school and/or local library for this book. The animals are slightly different and Nicki’s reason for going outside in the first place is different as well as the kind of mitten, but it makes a good comparison lesson. Animals for this lesson are provided in the attached files. Both are animals for this story, however, you may like one set better than the other because one is more realistic than the other.


Be sure to have pictures of all the animals you will be using in this lesson. If the adjectives you will be using are colors, you will want to have a color chart visible in the room. If the adjectives involve size, you can use both pictures and modeling to show opposites like long and short. Verbs can be acted out. Get the entire class involved in this activity. It is lots of fun!

Alternative assessments

  • An assessment suggestions would be to present pictures of animals to the LEP students. Then provide strips of paper with adjectives and verbs on the strips. The LEP student can then glue correct strips to the picture.
  • Another assessment would be to match pictures of verbs or nouns to the actual word. IE: match a picture of a tiger eating to the word eat, or a picture of a bear to the word bear.

Critical vocabulary

Use a lot of pictures and modeling to help students learn the nouns and verbs.If the LEP students are Spanish speakers, teach them that in the English language, adjectives usually come begore the noun not after it as in the Spanish language. IE English: The red car, Spanish: The car red.


I used this lesson with my first grade class. They really enjoyed discussing the animals and began to use adjectives, sometimes not the appropriate ones :), but were exploring extending their vocabulary in this way.

We also used the masks and acted out the story. I made a BIG mitten and let the children crawl into the mitten as they tried to see what is would be like to actually be that animal.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Language

        • Grade 1
          • 1.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking. 1.L.1.1 Print all upper- and lowercase letters. 1.L.1.2 Use common, proper, and possessive nouns. 1.L.1.3 Use singular and plural nouns with matching...
          • 1.L.5 With guidance and support from adults, demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships and nuances in word meanings. 1.L.5.1 Sort words into categories (e.g., colors, clothing) to gain a sense of the concepts the categories represent....
        • Grade 2
          • 2.L.6 Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g., When other kids are happy that makes me happy).
      • Reading: Literature

        • Grade 1
          • 1.RL.4 Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.
        • Writing

          • 1.W.1 Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 1

  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.06: Discuss authors'/speakers' use of different kinds of sentences to interest a reader/listener and communicate a message.
  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.02: Use words that name characters and settings (who, where) and words that tell action and events (what happened, what did ___ do) in simple texts.
    • Objective 4.03: Use specific words to name and tell action in oral and written language (e.g., using words such as frog and toad when discussing an expository text).

English Language Development (2005)

Grade 1

  • Goal 0:
    • Objective 0.01: Listen and respond to familiar questions, greetings, and phrases if spoken very slowly and distinctly, using one-word responses, physical actions, and other non-verbal communication.
    • Objective 0.01: Listen and physically respond to familiar simple questions with modeling and prompting.
    • Objective 0.02: Understand and follow one-step and two-step directions and instructions with modeling and prompting when spoken slowly and distinctly.
    • Objective 0.02: Follow one-step, simple directions with modeling and prompting.
    • Objective 0.03: Listen and demonstrate comprehension of oral presentations, stories, and/or familiar texts by responding to simple questions and statements
    • Objective 0.04: Listen to oral presentations, stories, and/or familiar texts told or read to them and respond using physical actions or other means of non-verbal communication with modeling and prompting.