Activating Adjectives

Teaching Strategies
School or Organization

TOPIC: Adjectives



What are adjectives and why do we use them?

How do adjectives make our writing more interesting?

How can we add adjectives into our writing as we revise?


§110.15. English Language Arts and Reading

(20)  Oral and Written Conventions/Conventions. Students understand the function of and use the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing. Students continue to apply earlier standards with greater complexity. Students are expected to:

         (A)  use and understand the function of the following parts of speech in the context of reading, writing, and speaking:

                    (iii)  adjectives (e.g., descriptive, including purpose: sleeping bag, frying pan) and their comparative and superlative forms (e.g., fast, faster, fastest);



Review the definition and purpose of adjectives as parts of speech, and talk about how we use adjectives in our writing.



Round 1: Ask students to move into a circle so they can see an object set on the floor or a desk in the middle. Hold a roll of tape and explain that we are going to use our imagination and acting skills to turn the object into many different things. The transformation should not be what the object actually is, but can be anything else that is appropriate for school. Demonstrate using the phrase “This is not a roll of tape, this is an earring” (or other desired phrase). Give students a moment to think of an object to transform the tape in, then hear from each student. As students note their objects, scribe them on the whiteboard or a piece of poster paper in columns with room to write in front of each word.

Reflection Questions:

How did you choose which object to use?

How did other students let you know what the object was using their bodies?

Round 2: This time, let students know that they are going to add adjectives to their object. Give the example of “a shiny, silver earring” or corresponding phrase to first example. Encourage students to use their bodies and their language to describe their imagined object as much as possible. As they use their phrases, write the adjectives they choose in front of their noun on the list on the board.

Reflection Questions:

How was your object (or someone else’s) different in the first round from the second round?

How did you decide what adjectives to use to describe your object?

Transition: Great job, everyone! We are going to return to our table groups to do some more work with adjectives.


Students return to their seats. Ask students what they know about graffiti, pass around examples (from Hope Gallery), and ask what they notice about the way the letters look. Let them know that they are going to work together to create their own graffiti wall using adjectives as text.

When they get their paper and markers, their first task will be to take 2 minutes to make a plan with their group how they can write all 26 letters on their piece of chart paper (which they will receive in a minute). After two minutes is up, hand out chart paper and let them know that they will have 3 minutes to, as a group, write out all of the letters on their paper.

After 3 minutes, ask them to put their markers down. Next, they will have 7 minutes to write down as many adjectives as they can think of next to the letter that they start with, trying to get one adjective that starts with every letter of the alphabet. Encourage them to use their artistic skills to make the letters or pictures look the way their group would like them to.

After 7 minutes (or when it seems most helpful), ask students to pause, and let them know that if they are still looking for adjectives for certain letters that they can use mentor texts from the classroom to find more adjectives. Give a few more minutes to add more words to their pages.

When time is up, ask students to put away their markers and, with their group, choose three words from their page that they would like to share with the group. Have each group share, then hang posters up together on the board.

Reflection Questions (for all posters together):

What words or images stand out most to you?

What words or images do you see on more than one page? Why do you think that might be?

Do you see any adjectives that are new to you? Can we define them as a class?

Draw connection between the color and visual appeal of the graffiti walls and the way that adjectives make our writing more interesting.

  • What were some of the adjectives you generated with your group?

  • Why do we use adjectives in our writing?

  • How can you use them as you are revising your writing?