Lesson plan

Visualize the Action Verbs

We teach our writers to “show, not tell.” Action verbs are a key component in that process! Use this lesson to teach your students to identify and use action verbs in sentences in order to strengthen their writing with clear description.
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Students will be able to identify and use action verbs in sentences.

(3 minutes)
Action Words #1Action Words #3
  • Display the following sentence on the board: "We are in the classroom."
  • Ask students to brainstorm what that sentence means and how they could visualize it. Ask, “If you could draw a picture, what would it look like?” Point out that the sentence is not clear enough for all of us to agree about what the visual would look like.
  • Act out different scenarios for what the verb AreCould mean. For example, act out running, walking, sitting, playing, shouting, and talking. With each example, read the new sentence with the action verb that replaces Are. For example, "We run in the classroom. We walk in the classroom."
  • Explain to students that good, descriptive sentences use action verbs to give the reader a visual of what is going on. Share that AreIs a linking verb, and while it is an important verb in our language, it does not provide readers with clear visualizations.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students that today’s lesson will be about identifying action verbs. An Action verbIs a verb that expresses physical or mental action. It tells what the subject does, whether it is physical or mental.
  • Point out that all verbs are important components of sentences, but some are more descriptive than others. As writers, we want to use words that give our readers the opportunity to Visualize, or make a mental picture in their mind.
  • Model identifying action verbs in sentences with the Action Words #1 worksheet. Draw a quick sketch next to each sentence to demonstrate how well you can visualize with action verbs.
  • Complete the final task on the worksheet by writing a sentence, circling the action verbs, and creating the visual. For example, "Mrs. Holmes spoke to her family about the vacation."
(10 minutes)
  • Group students into partnerships and distribute a copy of the Action Words #2 worksheet to each student.
  • Instruct students to work together to complete the first five examples on the worksheet, but that they must write their own original sentence for the final task.
  • Have students take out their whiteboard and whiteboard marker.
  • Go over the worksheet by having students write down the action verb and display their answer before moving on to the next example. Pause and quickly sketch a visual to prove that the action verb is descriptive.
  • Invite students to share their original sentences and illustrations.
(8 minutes)
  • Give each student a copy of the Action Words #3 worksheet. Instruct students to identify the action verb in the example sentences. Then, have them complete the final task by writing a sentence, circling the verbs, and creating an accompanying visual.
  • Go over the correct answers with the class and have students check their own paper. Call on nonvolunteers to share answers, and ask the rest of the class to give a thumbs up if they agree or a thumbs down if they disagree. Invite two or three students to share their original sentence and illustration.


  • Preteach a lesson about verbs and their functions.
  • Give students a word bank to choose from when identifying action verbs.
  • Reduce the number of example sentences for students to complete.
  • Provide sentence frames for students to use as they create sentences. For example, "I ____At the park on the weekend."


  • Have advanced students take out a piece of their writing and pay attention to the verbs. Challenge them to revise their writing to include more action verbs that allow for visualization.
(3 minutes)
  • Give each student an index card for their Exit Ticket.
  • Have them to divide the index card into two sections. On the left side, instruct them to write a sentence using one of the following action verbs: follow, sing, visit, cook, clean. On the right side, direct them to draw an illustration.
(2 minutes)
  • Have students share their Exit Tickets.
  • Remind students that we can make our writing clear and powerful by using action verbs. When we do, our readers will be able to visualize and better understand our writing.

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