Action Words

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Language Arts, Oral Language, Listening, Speaking

Grade 1- 3


Students learn about verbs.


Through informal activities and class discussion, first and second grade students should come to understand that a verb is a word that expresses an action. Children at this age might find it more accessible to use everyday terminology, such as doing words or action words.

Children need to develop an awareness of the following types of verbs and their uses.
(a) Doing verbs are words that express a concrete action. They are common in spoken language and in the writing of young children.
Examples: work, run, sit, eat, jump

(b) Saying verbs express a spoken action.
Examples: talk, tell, said, suggested, yelled

(c) Some verbs do not express a concrete action--they express actions that happen mentally, such as feelings, ideas, thoughts, or attitudes. These can be called thinking and feeling verbs. They are common in arguments, narratives, and descriptions (but not scientific descriptions, which are objective).
Examples: I like Sam. I understand. Katy believed the story.
I see the rabbit. I think people should recycle.

(d) Some verbs tell us about what things are and what they have. These are being and having verbs. They are common in all kinds of descriptions.
Examples: Ben is a good swimmer. Ali has the answer. They are here.
(Is, are, has, and have can also act as auxiliary or helping verbs for doing, thinking, and feeling verbs. Example: Ben is swimming.)
A verb is the key around which a sentence is built, and children need to be shown the importance of choosing the most expressive verb when speaking or writing.
At this level, children should also be given constant informal practice in the correct use of certain verbs which are often misused.


Teaching Strategies
Get active
Call for volunteers to perform certain actions and then describe what they are doing. Write what they say on the chalkboard and have other children underline the word(s) that expresses the action. I am jumping on the spot. I am hitting the door.

Mime time
Have selected children mime certain actions and challenge the rest of the class to guess what they are doing. Write the guesses on the chalkboard and have children underline the words that express the actions. Are you sweeping the floor? Are you milking a cow?

Verb list
Provide children with a suitable noun and then have them add a number of verbs saying what that noun does. A snake bites and hisses. A horse gallops and neighs.

Vague verbs
Have students suggest more descriptive synonyms for certain verbs such as walk. Make lists to post in the classroom so students can refer to them while they are studying verbs and composing sentences.

walk run say
stroll trot exclaim
limp race whisper
shuffle lope snarl

Correct it
Tell children a sentence with an incorrect use of a verb. Have them orally correct it.
The boys have went.The boys have gone. Can I get a drink, please?May I get a drink, please?

Verb match
Create two sets of labels--one set with names written on them, the other with matching verbs. Attach the labels to the chalkboard and have children sort them into matching pairs.
dogs bark
cats purr
elephants trumpet
frogs croak

Picture search
Have children search through old magazines and newspapers to find pictures in which an action is taking place. Then have them paste the chosen pictures on a large sheet of paper and beside each picture write a sentence describing the action. The lady is driving the car. The man is hitting the golf ball.

I can
Ask children to demonstrate what they can do, describing it aloud as they do it.
I can hop.
I can jump.
I can read.

Distribute the Verbs activity sheets to students and have them use what they have learned to complete them.


  • verbs activity sheets
  • pencils

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