Descriptive Verbs

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Language Arts, Writing, Writing Process, Grammar

Grade 3- 5


The student will identify strong verbs in text. The student will select strong, descriptive words to use in writing.



  1. Explain to the students that when writing descriptively, we tend to focus on the use of adjectives, but verbs can be descriptive, too.
  2. Write the sentences below on chart paper.
    • The animals ran in the forest.
    • The animals frolicked in the forest.
  3. Point out to the students that the verb ran is acceptable to use, but the word frolicked is much more descriptive. It tells us that the animals were moving briskly and playfully through the forest.
  4. Write the following list of verbs on chart paper and have the students brainstorm descriptive verbs that can replace them. (Suggested verbs are in parentheses.)
    • talk (whisper, chat, mutter)
    • yell (shriek, scream, bellow)
    • jump (leap, hop, bound)
    • eat (gobble, nibble, taste)
    • see (peer, spy, witness)
    • close (latch, block, bolt)
    • laugh (giggle, snicker, chuckle)
  5. Read aloud the article, Sweden's Igloo Inn on page 76.
  6. As you read, have the students raise their hands when they hear descriptive verbs. Write these verbs on chart paper. Ask the following questions:
    • How do these verbs add to the story?
    • Were you able to create visual images of the story?
    • Which descriptive words were particularly memorable?
  7. Explain that the author uses these verbs to give the reader a clearer visual image of what is happening in the story.
  8. Next, distribute copies of magazines for the students. Instruct the students to look for advertisements with descriptive verbs.
  9. As they find the verbs, the students cut them out and glue them onto construction paper. Have the students store the pages in their writing portfolios for future reference.
  10. Distribute student copies of Using Descriptive Verbs on page 77. The students should complete the page by writing a series of descriptive verbs for each verb listed.
  11. Ask each student to select a previously written story from his or her writing portfolio.
  12. Instruct the student to underline all of the verbs used. The student should then replace each verb with a more descriptive verb.
  1. Have the students recopy their stories with the newly added descriptive verbs. Instruct partners to revise and edit their work.
  2. Invite students to read their first and second versions of their stories. Encourage classmates to respond to the changes made and the use of descriptive verbs.
  3. Display student work on a board entitled, Vivid Verbs.
  1. Show the students how to find new verbs by using the thesaurus feature of a word-processing program. To use the feature in Microsoft Word, the student types a verb and then highlights it. Then the student clicks on Tools in the menu bar at the top of the screen and selects Language . . . Thesaurus from the drop-down menu. A window will appear, listing different word choices. The student can select a word from the window to replace the word that was originally highlighted.
  2. Instruct students to read two or three articles from magazines or newspapers. The students will create a list of descriptive verbs found in the articles.
  3. For added practice with using strong verbs, have the students complete Strong Verbs on page 78 and Using Strong Verbs on page 79.


  • chart paper
  • marker
  • Sweden's Igloo Inn (page 76; see below)
  • old magazines (Check to be sure they are appropriate for students.)
  • scissors
  • glue
  • construction paper
  • student copies of Using Descriptive Verbs (page 77; see below)
  • student copies of Strong Verbs (page 78; see below)
  • student copies of Using Strong Verbs (page 79; see below)

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