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

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Learning outcomes

  • The students will state the definition of an adjective.
  • The students will use adjectives in their writing as well as when they are verbally describing objects.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

4 Days



  • Using the K-W-L chart, ask the students if they know what an adjective is. Put this information under the K of the chart. Then ask them what they want to know about adjectives and fill in the information under the W of the chart.
  • Show the students the cover of the book and ask them to name the candy. Explain that the names of the candy are nouns. Ask what words would describe or tell us more about the candy. Tell the students that words that describe include things like size, shape, color and quantity (how many).


Day 1

  1. Read the name, author, and illustrator of the book. Open it to the clown on the first page and ask the students to describe him through group discussion. Ask the students what they think the book might be about. Then show the students the pages through the circus pages. While showing the pages, ask the students to describe what they see. Encourage them to use as many describing words as possible. Read through to the circus pages.
  2. Close the book and fill in what the students have learned so far under the L in the K-W-L chart. Go over each of the three areas of the K-W-L chart.

Day 2

  1. Review the K-W-L chart and what an adjective is.
  2. Read the book to the circus pages. Look through the remainder of the pages and describe them through group discussion. Then read the remainder of the book.
  3. See if the students want to add anything else to the K-W-L chart. Use your discretion as to what information from this book is appropriate for your age level.

Day 3

  1. Review what an adjective is. Reread the book and encourage the students to read along with you the words they feel comfortable with. Whenever possible model expressions.
  2. Show the students some of the objects that you brought in for discussion and have the students describe them.

Day 4

  1. Review the definition of an adjective. Read the book again. Tell the students they can close their eyes and listen to help them “paint” or “visualize” a picture in their mind.
  2. Make a wall chart of adjectives. Allow the students to draw a picture or use some of the objects you brought to describe. Follow the writing process whenever possible for their descriptions. Encourage the students to write a “vivid” sentence(s).


Observe the students as they work and make notes on their work. Collect their work, and date it and evaluate it for their understanding of adjectives. Whenever the students have a writing assignment, remind them to be sure to write good sentences using adjectives whenever necessary so that the reader has a “picture” of what the writer is saying.

Supplemental information


  • Kindergarten and First graders: They may or may not be able to write sentences. If they cannot write sentences, then have them dictate their sentences to you. You may want to focus on one or two complete sentences using color, size, and/or shapes.
  • Second and Third graders: They should be able to write a short paragraph describing their pictures or objects. They should be able to use more describing words than the younger students.
  • Fourth through Sixth graders: They should be able to write a detailed descriptive paragraph using a lot of describing words.
  • English as a Second Language students: Use your discretion as to what they are capable of writing, depending on the language proficiency. They might only be able to use colors, size, and shape or more. Allow them to participate in the activity.


  • I have used this assignment with a variety of grade levels. The pictures are very colorful with lots of details; however I pick and choose what is best for each particular class.
  • I also try to encourage the students to create their own pictures instead of using an object that I brought. From the writing assignment, you can look at their sentence structures and try to get them to write better sentences.
  • Other books on parts of speech by Ruth Heller include Up, Up and Away (adverbs), Kites Sail High (verbs), Merry-Go-Round (nouns), and A Cache of Jewels (collective nouns).

  • 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...
        • Reading: Literature

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

          • 1.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure.
        • Kindergarten
          • K.W.2 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 1

  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual 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).


  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.03: Use words that describe color, size, and location in a variety of texts: e.g., oral retelling, written stories, lists, journal entries of personal experiences.