Describe It! 8+ Activities, Apps, and Tools to Help Children Learn Adjectives

“A man’s character may be learned from the adjectives
which he habitually uses in conversation.”
~ Mark Twain

Adjectives help children learn language in a fun way. They help children visualize and describe nouns and settings. Adjectives also spark a child’s imagination. When children learn adjectives they learn how to describe the worlds, characters, and adventures they conjure up in their minds. Dragons become fire-breathing green giants and monsters become enormous hairy beasts with sharp fangs and claws. Below are a few lesson ideas, web tools, and apps to help your students learn adjectives.

Adjectives and Poetry

Children can learn adjectives by creating acrostic, diamante, and concrete poems. In an acrostic poem, the first letters of a word describe the word. For example, students can spell out their first names, then describe themselves. Jim becomes Jolly boy, Interested in soccer and cars, and Makes model airplanes. Diamante poems are diamond-shaped poems that are seven lines long and follow this pattern: (1st line) noun; (2nd line) adjective, adjective; (3rd line) verb, verb, verb; (4th line) noun, noun, noun, noun; (5th line) verb, verb, verb; (6th line) adjective, adjective; and (7th line) noun. Concrete poems, often called shape poems, are poems that take the shape of an object or noun. For example, children can be assigned to write sun-shaped poems that describe what they like about the summer. Before students write their poems get them to brainstorm a list of adjectives and adjective phrases to describe the subject matter. Find templates and various activities about poetry at Poetry4kids.com. Find brainstorming templates at EnchantedLearning.com.

Lost and Found Dialogues

Separate children into pairs. The pairs will create a dialogue between two characters using free web tools like GoAnimate and ZimmerTwins or free mobile apps like Sockpuppets, PuppetPals, and 3D Buddy Poke Avatars. Each pair will receive a card that describes a lost and found situation, place, and item lost. For example, the pair might receive a card with the mall listed as the place and a favorite toy listed as the item lost. The students create a dialogue in which character A describes their favorite toy to character B, the mall worker in charge of Lost and Found items. Other scenarios might include lost luggage at an airport, lost shoes at a waterpark, or lost jewelry at a party.

Mister, How Are You?

This is a favorite game I play with the children I’ve taught. First, students stand in a line against the classroom wall. I stand at the opposite side with a puppet. This puppet can be a monster, bear, dragon, lion, crocodile or other scary creature. The children chant, “Mr. Bear, Mr. Bear, how are you?” The puppet answers, “I am (sad, happy, lonely, excited, etc.).” If the puppet says “hungry”, all the children run to reach the opposite wall before the puppet eats one of them. Whoever is eaten takes over the puppet.

What’s in the Bag?

I remember playing this fun game as a child. The teacher brings in a bag with several small objects inside. Everyone sits in a circle. The teacher passes the bag to a child who has to choose one of the objects and describe what it feels like. The others try to guess what the object is, including the child describing the object. After a minute, the child reveals the object and passes the bag along to the next child. The object is placed in the middle of the circle if it was guessed. If not, then the object is kept in the bag. Bags can be full of objects found at a certain place. For example, you might bring in a bag full of materials found in your room or found during a hike, such as a pebble, leaf, dirt, or petal. Make sure the items are safe to touch. You might also want to have children wear latex gloves or wash their hands later. You can also get the children to make their own discovery bags.

Witness

One activity I like doing is getting one of the other teachers to interrupt my lesson and steal an item from me like an iPod or purse. The teacher has to dress in a disguise so that the children do not recognize the teacher. I then ask the children many questions about the incident and culprit. They have to describe the time, date, what they saw, and the robber’s height, hair color, and eye color. They compare notes with other peers and are allowed to correct their statements.

Draw My Alien

Children draw aliens they discover on a new planet. They should not show these drawings to anyone. Separate children into pairs. Student A describes the monster to Student B who draws the alien according to the description. Then the partners switch and Student A draws Student B’s alien. Find a list of free drawing web tools and apps in this previous post, 25+ Apps and Tools to Create Colorful Learning Experiences for Children. You can also get children to draw their imaginary friends, an invention, a superhero, a monster, a new cartoon character, or a new vehicle.

Adjectives Board Game

Kids can create and play a fun board game about adjectives at BogglesWorld.com. You can print the Comparative Adjectives board game or have students use the free template to create their own board games. You could also get students to play these favorite board games, which get students to use adjectives:

  • Apples to Apples Junior – A student picks a card with an adjective. The other students choose which of their noun cards best fits that adjective category.
  • Charades – A student chooses one flashcard and acts it out for the team to guess.
  • Taboo – A student chooses one card and describes the object for the team to guess. The student cannot say words that are taboo.
  • Catch Phrase Junior – This game has been discontinued but you could easily recreate this game. This is similar to Taboo. The child picks a category, then gets a card and has to describe the card so that the team guesses it. This version has no taboo words. Also, the students keep getting teammates to guess the words until a timer runs out.
  • Have students play Adjective Bingo with the template found at Teach-This.com.

Invent a Creature

One of my favorite books to read to children is The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson. The main character, a mouse, runs into many different creatures in a forest. They try to eat him so he invents a scary monster he is going to meet, the Gruffalo. The mouse uses several fun adjectives to portray the scariness of the Gruffalo. Have students imagine their own creatures to replace the Gruffalo and create a new story with free web tools and apps like Storybird, Little Bird Tales, and Book Creator Lite.

More Resources

Find more lesson plans, websites, and apps full of fun ways to learn adjectives:

What are your favorite ways to teach children adjectives?

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is the author of Learning To Go and The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators. She is also an adjunct professor, teacher trainer, and international speaker. She has trained teachers in over 25 countries and is a founder of the Bammy Award-winning #Edchat, the ELTON-nominated ELTChat, and The Reform Symposium E-Conference. She is the host of American TESOL’s Free Friday Webinars and shares regularly via TeacherRebootCamp.com, Twitter (@ShellTerrell), Facebook.com/shellyterrell, and Google.com/+ShellySanchezTerrell. She has taught toddlers to adults English in various countries including the US, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, and Greece.

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