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

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • identify precise verbs in book excerpts read to them.
  • generate precise verbs to describe action in pictures.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 hour

Materials/resources

  • Vis-à-Vis markers
  • Books that contain precise verbs (Examples: Skinnybones, Shrek, Ramona the Brave, Gentle Giant Octopus, Bat at Night, etc.)
  • About 10 picture cards (Cut pictures out of magazines, glue on pieces of construction paper, and laminate.)
  • Copies of the “Awesome Action Words” sheet for all students: pdf|rtf

Activities

Modeling/Mini-lesson

  1. Explain to students that good writers use precise verbs to make stories interesting and vivid. Explain that after this lesson, they will be able to replace boring, redundant, generic verbs (for example, Billy “went” to his room without dinner.) with more precise Awesome Action Words (Billy “stomped” or “shuffled” to his room without dinner.) Make a list of sentences with generic verbs and demonstrate how the generic words can be replaced with verbs/action words that make the sentences more exciting.
  2. Read short specific excerpts from Skinnybones, Shrek, and/or another book that contains precise language. Ask them to raise their hands when they hear precise action words/verbs. Ask students to list verbs they hear on their note-taking sheet as they listen.

Guided Practice

  1. Pass out the picture cards and Vis-à-Vis markers. Have students work in small groups to generate specific verbs that tell about the action in the pictures. Ask students to write the verbs on the cards. After about ten minutes, share the pictures and verbs orally.
  2. Have students explain which words they like best and why. Remind them to write their favorite words on their Awesome Action Words sheet. This list will be a useful resource for students to use later. They may keep these lists in their working writing folders.
  3. Review by reminding students that our favorite authors use good, strong verbs. Writers use specific verbs to make stories interesting and vivid.

Followup activities

  • Have students post their Awesome Action Words on a classroom bulletin board or poster, and regularly add new words.
  • Have students change the meaning of a sentence by substituting a synonym with a slightly different shade of meaning.

Assessment

Can students:

  • identify precise verbs in books read to them?
  • generate lists of precise words to describe action?

Supplemental information

Modifications

This lesson plan, as it is written, and the suggested activities, is an excellent plan that will meet the needs of LEP students.

Critical vocabulary

  • action words
  • verbs
  • synonym
  • awesome

Use visuals and/or modeling as much as possible.

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

        • Grade 3
          • 3.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships and nuances in word meanings. 3.L.5.1 Distinguish the literal and nonliteral meanings of words and phrases in context (e.g., take steps). 3.L.5.2 Identify real-life connections between...
        • Grade 4
          • 4.L.6 Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal precise actions, emotions, or states of being (e.g., quizzed, whined, stammered) and that are basic to a particular topic...
      • Writing

        • Grade 3
          • 3.W.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
        • Grade 4
          • 4.W.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 3

  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.08: Focus reflection and revision (with assistance) on target elements by:
      • clarifying ideas.
      • adding descriptive words and phrases.
      • sequencing events and ideas.
      • combining short, related sentences.
      • strengthening word choice.

Grade 4

  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections with text through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.01: Respond to fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama using interpretive, critical, and evaluative processes by:
      • analyzing the impact of authors' word choice and context.
      • examining the reasons for characters' actions.
      • identifying and examining characters' motives.
      • considering a situation or problem from different characters' points of view.
      • analyzing differences among genres.
      • making inferences and drawing conclusions about characters, events and themes.
  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.08: Focus revision on a specific element such as:
      • word choice.
      • sequence of events and ideas.
      • transitional words.
      • sentence patterns.

English Language Development (2005)

Grade 3

  • Goal 0:
    • Objective 0.01: Participate effectively in social and academic conversations with occasional difficulties and/or hesitations.
    • Objective 0.02: Understand and follow one-step and two-step directions on a variety of topics when spoken at a normal speed with occasional restatement.
    • Objective 0.02: Understand and follow one-step and two-step directions when spoken distinctly at a normal speed.
    • Objective 0.02: Use expanded vocabulary to carry on discourse in social and academic conversations with occasional difficulties.
    • Objective 0.02: Use limited vocabulary to carry on discourse or make presentations with some momentary silence.
    • Objective 0.02: Compose sentences with correct subject and verb agreement for regular verbs in the present tense.
    • Objective 0.03: Listen to a variety of stories told or read and identify elements of a story following direct instruction.
    • Objective 0.04: Listen to a variety of stories told or read aloud and demonstrate comprehension using a variety of strategies with occasional assistance (e.g., sequencing, pictograph, story mapping).
    • Objective 0.05: Demonstrate comprehension of an oral presentation on a variety of topics using multiple strategies with occasional assistance (e.g., sequencing, pictograph, story mapping).
    • Objective 0.05: Use focused review to edit correct use of plural forms of commonly used nouns and contractions, sequence of events, and descriptive words and phrases with some assistance.
    • Objective 0.01: Listen and respond to most questions on a variety of topics, greetings, and phrases spoken distinctly at normal speed with occasional restatement.
    • Objective 0.01: Participate effectively in social and academic conversations with occasional difficulties and/or hesitations.
    • Objective 0.01: Use limited vocabulary on familiar topics in discussions with some momentary silence.
    • Objective 0.02: Understand and follow one-step and two-step directions when spoken distinctly at a normal speed.
    • Objective 0.02: Compose sentences with correct subject and verb agreement for regular verbs in the present tense.
    • Objective 0.03: Use expanded vocabulary to participate in a variety of social and academic topics with occasional difficulty.
    • Objective 0.03: Use limited vocabulary to make oral presentations with moments of silence.
    • Objective 0.05: Use focused review to edit correct use of plural forms of commonly used nouns and common contractions, sequence of events, and addition of descriptive words and phrases with some instructional support.
    • Objective 0.08: Use a dictionary, glossary, thesaurus, or other reference materials to identify and comprehend unknown words.