Adjectives are not something that can be taught in a single lesson or even unit. They require constant review and expansion of knowledge. Thankfully, the study and practice of adjectives is something that can make a good basis for a lesson when you have mixed proficiency classes. I have a lot of different activities I that I do with my students involving adjectives, and all of them can be adjusted based on student proficiency. Some of the activities that I’ve shared about in the past are:
Picture Prompts Game
Picture Prompts is a game I originally developed to practice cause and effect or questions words, but I’ve used it for about a hundred other things since. One of those things is practicing adjectives. I vary the requirements based on students’ proficiency level. Beginning students simply state a single adjective and noun (white dog). Lower intermediate students will form a sentence describing a noun with the be verb (The dog is white.). Upper intermediate students will form a sentence describing a noun without a be verb, or possibly with multiple adjectives (The strong white dog jumps in the water.). Advanced students will use multiple adjectives and form sentences with multiple clauses (The strong white dog, which belongs to my brother, is trying to catch the hard brown stick.).
Alphabet Adjective Zig-Zag Game
This was one of the first games I ever developed for practicing adjectives. Alphabet Adjective Zig-Zag is more challenging than Picture Prompts because students are required to think of their own noun, as well as an adjective to describe it. It can be very difficult for lower proficiency level students to think of nouns that begin with a particular letter, so I often allow them to roll the letter cube more than once if necessary. In general though, I adapt the game for various proficiency levels in the same manner as Picture Prompts, but will sometimes add in an extra challenge for my intermediate to advanced students. I’ll ask them to alliterate their answer by using an adjective and noun that begin with the letter rolled, not just one or the other.
Often our cumulative project after a full unit about adjectives, Appetizing Adjectives is still one of my students’ favorite projects of the year. Recently, we’ve taken to playing a board game version of Appetizing Adjectives before working on the various versions of our final project. It’s a fun way to get warmed up before diving into our summative assessment.
All of these activities are great, but today I’d like to share with you about an intermediate project/assessment that I sometimes use before Appetizing Adjectives, or when I don’t have the time or need for a full unit on adjectives: Adjective Hunt.
Similar to Picture Perfect Prepositions, Adjective Hunt is a scavenger hunt type activity that requires little to no preparation and few materials. The only preparation is creating a list of 5-10 adjectives students already know and gathering some common materials. In fact, I suspect most, if not all of you, have all of the materials you need in your classrooms already. The materials you’ll need are white copy paper, glue sticks, scissors, markers, and magazines or catalogs students can cut up.
In class, give each student a list of adjectives and access to the required materials. If you want all students to work off the same list, you can save time and paper by displaying it on the board. You can also provide each student with a different list in order to provide variety to answers or different levels of challenge for differing proficiency levels. Another option is to provide a longer list (20-30 adjectives) and give students a particular number of required adjectives to use.
Students then look through the magazines and catalogs, hunting for pictures of things they can describe with one or more of the target adjectives. When students find such an image, they cut it out, glue it to a piece of copy paper, and start writing. What I require students to write depends again on their proficiency level. Typically, I follow the same requirements as with the games, beginning with two-three word labels and advancing to simple and then more complex sentences.
How long this activity takes depends mostly on how many adjectives students are required to use. When I have the time, I prefer to take a full two to three class periods and do approximately ten adjectives per student. When I’m short on time, I’ll shorten the list to five, or even three, adjectives and complete the activity/assessment in a single class period.
As with the Picture Perfect Prepositions activity, I like Adjective Hunt because it allows me to see how well students understand the meaning of various adjectives. Students enjoy the freedom of being able to choose their own images and compose their own sentences. They also enjoy seeing their work displayed in the classroom. Then the fact that it can be adapted and used for multiple proficiency levels simultaneously is a wonderful thing as well! While I don’t expect anyone to give me a creative teaching award for this particular lesson, it is one I’ve used successfully many times and highly recommend. Give it a try with your students and let me know how it goes. Happy teaching, everyone!