Adjective Hunt

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–paper
Picture Prompts–digital

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–paper
Alphabet Adjective Zig-Zag–digital

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.

Appetizing Adjectives

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.

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!

Appetizing Adjectives

Last fall I told you about one of my favorite adjective board games, Alphabet Adjective Zig-Zag (check it out, it’s free!). Today I’d like to tell you about two other adjective activities my students and I love. Both activities require only common classroom materials (paper, scissorsglue sticks) and grocery store ads. 

Before we get to the activities, let me tell you how I supply my students with grocery ads. The first thing I do is save the ones that come in the mail each week. This ensures that I have a good variety, and it’s really not a difficult task; I just toss them into an old paper box in my basement, rather than the recycle bin. If I’m in need of large quantities of ads, I will visit the local stores shortly before closing time (or in the late evening if it’s a 24-hour store) on the day the ad expires. Ask at the service counter and they’ll happily give you all they have, or tell you to help ​yourself from the display, they’re going to throw them out in a few hours anyway. You don’t get the variety this way, but it does quickly give you a very large quantity.

Delicious Descriptions
The first activity I want to share with you is one I do with my beginning and low intermediate students. Each student will need a poster board or large sheet of paper (bulletin board paper works, or visit a place where they print newspapers, they’ll often sell you an end roll very cheaply), scissorsglue stickmarkers, and grocery ads. They may want a ruler as well, but that is optional. Have the students divide their paper into 28 squares (seven rows of four squares each works best). Use the first two squares as the title for the project. In each of the remaining 26 squares write a letter from A-Z. Put the letter in the upper right or left corner, it shouldn’t take up much room. Students are now ready to begin work.

The first step of the assignment is to find a food that begins with each letter of the alphabet, cut it out, and glue it into the correct square. I allow students to count brand names as the letter for the more difficult to find letters (such as Q and X). Grocery ads are great for beginning learners because all of the foods are labeled, providing them with the needed vocabulary support. The second step of the project is to label each food with it’s name and a descriptive adjective. I allow my lower level students to use any adjectives they can think of (but I tell them they can only use an adjective three times in the entire project), such as “red apple.” More advanced students are not allowed to use colors or shapes as adjectives, and I challenge them to use alliteration whenever possible (I’ll often offer extra credit as an added incentive). Some descriptions are still fairly basic, such as “amazing apples,” but others get quite creative, i.e.: “wrinkly pasta” for rotini. Sometimes I’ll also challenge more advanced students to write complete sentences for each food, but not too often.

The final posters are always very colorful, and make great classroom displays. Other than making everyone hungry, no one has ever complained about this particular activity. As a teacher, I love the rich vocabulary practice, and the built-in support. 

Cafeteria Cuisine
Delicious Descriptions is not challenging enough for my intermediate and advanced students, so they have a different project: Cafeteria Cuisine. The goal of the project is to imagine the school cafeteria as a restaurant and create a menu for it. I provide them with copies of the school’s lunch menu for the month and example menus from real restaurants. (Side Note: I actually spent several months asking different restaurant mangers/owners if they’d be willing to give me a real menu, rather than a paper take-out one, that I could use with my students. Almost all of them were more than happy to help, and now I have a nice collection.) You can do this project with just normal paper and markers, but it’s much easier on a computer. When I first started doing this project many years ago, we used Microsoft Publisher’s tri-fold brochure layout to make our menus. Today I like to use Google’s Applied Digital Skills lesson, Create a Brochure, which teaches students how to make a trifold brochure in Google Drawings. This saves me a lot of time because the step-by-step instruction is already done, and the program is much more user friendly. 

Students are responsible for creating a name, logo, and the menu itself. I tell them their menu must include drinks, sides, mains, and desserts sections. Each item on the menu must have a one to two sentence description, and include a minimum of three adjectives (adjectives can be in the name or description). Other than those few requirements (name, logo, menu with description, at least three adjective for each item), students are free to do whatever they choose. They have a blast and the results are always amazing! I like to share their final products with the cafeteria workers at the school, and they always enjoy seeing what the students have done. At one school we only had two cafeteria employees, a husband and wife team, and they cherished the students’ work. When they retired over a decade later the students’ menus were some of the things they made sure to take with them. 

These projects were lifesavers for me when I was teaching multi-level groups! I could teach the same introductory lesson to all of my students, and they could work on their individual projects simultaneously. Those two-four days were a nice break for me, as I was usually trying to do my best imitation of a one room schoolhouse teacher, facilitating up to four unique lessons a class period. Even now, years after those days, my students and I still really like these projects. I hope your students enjoy them as much as mine have. Happy teaching, everyone!


Wanting to go beyond basic adjectives? Check out my comparative and superlative adjectives board game, it’s available in both paper and digital formats ($1 each):

Alphabet Adjective Zig-Zag Board Game

Digital Version: Free!
Paper Version: Free!

Recently I’ve been part of a lot of online discussions revolving around keeping students engaged online during synchronous learning sessions. There are a lot of good ideas out there, many of them using resources and tools that I too use and appreciate, but my best idea is still the same as it’s always been: GAMES! Today I’d like to share with you another of the digital ​activities/games that I’ve developed. And what’s better than a digital board game? A FREE digital board game! Just click the picture above, or button below, to go to Teachers Pay Teachers and have Alphabet Adjective Zig-Zag added to your Google Drive for free. Prefer a paper version? It’s free as well!

Using adjectives to describe nouns seems like a simple skill, but it actually requires a lot of vocabulary. Additionally, not all languages put the adjective before the noun, and sometimes my students struggle with correct placement of them in their sentences. Alphabet Adjective Zig-Zag is a board game that allows students to practice these skills in a fun way. 

The paper version of the game requires a letter die as well as a number die. I know from experience how easily students get distracted and confused when they have to utilize multiple sites and/or tabs, so I wanted them to be able to “roll” the dice without ever leaving the Google Slide deck the game was built in. Fortunately I am married to a full stack software architect and he came to my rescue. My wonderful husband programmed an extra menu item into Google Slides that includes both an alphabet and a numerical die that students can “roll” by simply clicking. The script I used in this game is available in my TpT store (along with others), simply use the buttons below to purchase your own copy. Each has a how-to-install video linked in the description of the product. OK, back to the game…

When I make games in Google Slides I always design the non-moving parts in PowerPoint, save them as an image, and upload them as backgrounds. As I’ve shared in the past, this prevents students from accidentally (or not-so-accidentally) deleting or changing the directions, questions, or other content. This game was no exception, and I started by recoloring my paper-based game board and saving it as an image. I then opened PowerPoint, resized my slide to be 17×11 (allowing me space to put the game board and directions on the same slide), and inserted the image. Next to the game board I added the directions so students will be able to refer to them as needed. After saving everything as images (click on “save as” and change the file type to .jpg or .png), I opened a new Google Slides file, changed the slide size (File, Page Setup), and inserted my saved images as the background on each slide.

The object of the game is to be the first player to reach finish. In order to advance, students must first obtain a letter (by rolling the alphabet die), naming a noun that starts with the given letter, an adjective to describe the noun, and use both the adjective & noun in a sentence. If the sentence is grammatically correct, the student then rolls the numerical die and moves his/her piece. An extra space can be earned (turning a roll of 4 into 5) by using alliteration (ie: The dangerous dog was contained behind a fence.). Here’s a short video showing how to play the digital version:

Two important things to remember when using the digital version of this game: the slide deck must remain in editing mode and you must make a copy (with editing rights) for each group. Students will not be able to access the extra menu where the dice are, or move their playing pieces, if the game is placed into present mode. Each group will need its own copy of the game (they’ll share the file and manipulate it from their different locations), with editing rights, in order to play as well. The game play (dice) menu will automatically load in each copy, you will not need to do anything special, though students may have to wait an extra 10-15 seconds for the menu to fully load before beginning. That seems like such a short time to wait, but I’m always amazed at how little patience students have when waiting for things to load, so be prepared to remind them.

My students have always loved the paper version of this game and I can’t wait to play the digital one with them. One last tip: at times I’ve wanted to have a record of how my students used adjectives, so I instructed them to write down the sentences they used on a piece of paper. If needed you can obtain this same type of record with the digital version. Simply have the student right click on the space where his/her piece is sitting, choose “comment,” type out the sentence​, and click “Comment.” This will allow you to see who said what at a later date. Happy gaming, everyone!

Cover Up Games

Present Perfect Cover Up: Paper
Participial Adjective Cover Up: Digital
Past Continuous Cover Up: Paper
Sentence Types Cover Up: Digital
Cause & Effect Cover Up: Paper
One of the favorite games in my classroom is Cover Up. We have two different ways of playing it and this post features one game for each version of play.

The first way we play is two players share a game board with the goal is of covering four squares with your color of marker. The squares can be in a straight line, diagonal line, four corners, or four squares that form a grid. In order to get the right to cover a square students must first correctly complete a sentence.

In the participle adjective paper version of the game, students draw a card, read the sentence, and decide if the word in parenthesis needs an -ed or an -ing ending to correctly complete the sentence. If the student is correct about the ending, he/she then places a cover (I use milk jug lids as my covers) over a square on the board with the corresponding ending.

The digital version of Participle Adjective Cover Up is slightly different. For this version I inserted a custom script in order to create an additional menu item called “Ending.” Students click “Ending,” and then  “Generate Ending,” and a box pops up that says “You rolled -ed,” or “You rolled -ing.” Students then search the board for a sentence that requires the specified ending to complete it. The student reads the sentence aloud, correctly filling in the blank, and then is able to drag one of his/her X’s over the spot to claim it. Here’s a short video showing the game in action:

In the second version of play for Cover Up, each student receives his/her own board. The goal can be adjusted, but in general I tell the students that the first person to completely cover the board in the winner.

The paper version requires a 12-sided die of some kind (or two 6-sided dice and students can choose how many to roll each turn). The first student rolls the die and checks his/her board to see if the indicated number is covered. If it is not, he/she forms a sentence using the present perfect tense and the situation described in the square. If the sentence is grammatically correct, the square receives a cover (again, I use milk jug lids). If the sentence is not grammatically correct, the square remains uncovered. If the number rolled has already been covered, the turn is forfeited. 

The digital version is played in a similar fashion, but it has a specially coded “Dice” menu added to it. The first student clicks on “Dice” and “Roll Dice,” and a window pops up showing a number between 1 and 12. Play then proceeds as described above, with the student checking his/her board to see if the square is available or not and forming a sentence when it is. Covers are the grey X’s in the center of the board, which can be dragged and dropped where needed. 

Both digital games have been designed and uploaded so the only things that can be moved or edited on the slides are the covers. The words and pictures are all part of the background and cannot be accidentally (or accidentally-on-purpose) deleted or changed. Here’s a short video showing the digital version of Present Perfect Cover Up in action:

Cover up really is one of the most popular games in my classroom. The use of milk jug lids for covers makes it cheap to make and helps it stand out from other games. The students especially enjoy the element of chance added by the fact they can’t control the dice roll and so the first person to take a turn isn’t automatically the winner. 

All of the versions of the games (paper and digital for distance learning) are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, just click the photos and buttons above. Also available are bundles of the paper and digital games at a 25% discount, and a script you can add to Google Slides or Docs to create your own game using a D6 number cube.