Objectives and Materials
Adjectives add life to writing, and children use them long before they can name them. However, as kids mature, one path to better
writing is understanding the mechanics of how our language works. Learning the parts of speech is a step along that path. Help children understand what adjectives are and when and how to use them by trying some of the activities in this lesson plan.
- Students will define ‘adjective’ as a describing word.
- Students will generate a list of common adjectives.
- Students will identify adjectives in sentences.
Use the materials needed for the activities you choose:
- Several ‘Fill-in’ stories of your choice (available in bookstores or from Free Mad Libs Generator, Madlibs for Teachers, Mad Libs for Kids, or similar site of your choice).
- Set of word cards that include many adjectives.
- Highlighting marker for each student.
- Printed text suitable for highlighting.
Review of Concept
Start each lesson by reviewing exactly what an adjective is. Students should state or restate that an adjective is a word that describes a noun. They should be able to tell that adjectives often appeal to the five senses (words such as smelly, green, or loud), and that many adjectives end in the suffix -y. Point out adjectives in sample sentences or text passages, then have students locate adjectives in different samples. Make a class list of adjectives for use in the chosen games and activities.
Quiet Adjective Word Games
These activities start with a list of parts of speech or other characteristics of words. Players generate the required words without knowing the subject of the story. When an adjective is needed, no one knows what the word will be describing in the final story. Take audience suggestions for each needed word, or use a round-robin method of soliciting responses. When all blanks have been filled, read the story out loud using the suggested words in the blanks.
Divide the group into teams. Start each team with a short, simple sentence that does not use many modifiers, such as “The boy went.” Give each team a few moments to expand the sentence by adding details, while still remaining grammatically correct. The team whose sentence contains the most adjectives used in correct ways wins the round.
Active Adjective Games
Scatter word flashcards on the floor around the play area. Make sure there are at least two word cards for every person and that over half of the cards are adjectives. The game leader begins a round by calling out “ADJECTIVE SHUFFLE!” and players must run to a card that they believe is an adjective. Choose several players at random to say a sentence using their word as an adjective in a sentence, then call “ADJECTIVE SHUFFLE!” again. Players who do not choose an adjective for their new word can be out for the next round if you wish. Repeat as often as often as you like.
Set up an indoor baseball diamond with marked bases. Divide the group into two teams. The player ‘at bat’ must make up a sentence on the spot. Set a time limit of 30 to 60 seconds if necessary. The team ‘in the field’ must quickly analyze the sentence and count the adjectives. Article adjectives do not count. Set a time limit if necessary. Each adjective used correctly in the sentence is worth one base. For example, the sentence “He saw the large, red balloon float into the blue sky” would be a three-base hit. If a sentence has more than four adjectives or has no adjectives used correctly, the batter is out. After three outs, the opposing team gets to try a turn at bat.
Check your group’s understanding of adjectives by giving each student a highlighting marker and having him or her mark the adjectives in the given text. You can adjust the difficulty level of the evaluation by choosing text with more or fewer adjectives, or by increasing or decreasing the percentage of adjectives that need to be marked for successful completion of the task.