Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Adjectives Can Make Things: Bigger, Brighter, More Beautiful!


Patricia Turner, Karen Parker | Published: July 8th, 2022 by Oklahoma Young Scholars/Javits

  • Grade Level Grade Level 1st
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course
  • Time Frame Time Frame 100 minutes
  • Duration More 3 class periods


Using adjectives can make a story bigger, brighter, and more beautiful. The book "If You Were an Adjective” by Michael Dahl will be used as a catalyst to help students examine how exciting a story can be when adjectives are used to describe people, places, and things. Students will learn what adjectives are and be able to identify and use them in a sentence.

Essential Question(s)

What are adjectives and how can they make stories and writing more interesting?



Students review nouns by creating a noun Anchor Chart using word cards. Then, students listen to two sentences. The first sentence has only nouns, and the second includes adjectives that make the sentence more interesting.


Students listen to the book If You Were an Adjective by Michael Dahl.


The class uses the adjectives from the story to build an Anchor Chart. Students collectively create a definition of an adjective and add it to their chart.


Using animal picture cards, students write adjectives to describe the animal. Then, working in pairs, students extend their lists of adjectives and complete the task by writing sentences using adjectives.


Students work independently to make a Vocabulary Acrostic using their name with adjectives.


  • Noun Word Cards (attached; one card per student)

  • Noun Picture Cards (attached' one card per student)

  • Animal Cards (attached)

  • Add to the Story handout (attached)

  • Four Seasons handout (attached)

  • If You Were an Adjective by Michael Dahl

  • Sample Anchor Chart (attached)

  • chart paper

  • Lesson Slides (attached; optional)

  • paper (one sheet per students)

  • writing utensils


20 Minute(s)

Choose one of the attached card sets (Noun Word Cards, Noun Picture Cards, or Animal Cards) Pass out one card to each student. Have them read their word to their Elbow Partner. Ask them to decide if the words are people, places, or things.

Go around the room and have the pairs read their words aloud and say whether they think the word is a person, place, or thing. Then, have students tape the card in the appropriate column on the Noun Anchor Chart. If there is disagreement about whether a word is a person, place, or thing, let the class help decide. For instance, there may be a disagreement on the placement of the word school. Is it a place or a thing? Could it go in both?

When the chart is complete, remind students that people, places, and things are a part of speech called "nouns". Add the title "Nouns Are:" to the chart.

Now show and read to students this simple sentence. Students should identify the nouns in the sentence.

My dog sleeps in a bed.

Repeat the process using the expanded sentence.

My fluffy white dog sleeps in an old dirty bed.

Then ask students which sentence they think is more exciting and why. Next, circle the words added to the 2nd sentence and tell students that these words are called "adjectives" and that they are going to have some fun learning more about adjectives!


20 Minute(s)

Read the book If You Were An Adjective by Michael Dahl to the class or play the read-along video so they can listen. Encourage students to interact with the book as their understanding of adjectives evolves.


20 Minute(s)

Using pages 7-8 of the book or slides 10–11 of the attached Lesson Slides, have students identify any adjectives. Then, ask students to explain what the adjectives are describing, such as: "gray" describes the color, "gigantic" describes the size, "wet and hot" describes how the elephant feels, or "sparkling" describes what it looks like.

Have students help you write these adjectives in the correct boxes on the Adjectives Anchor Chart that you prepared prior to the lesson. Then repeat the process with additional pages from the book and add those to the chart.

Help students decide on a definition for "adjective" and add it to the chart.


20 Minute(s)

Give each student an animal or noun picture card and have them glue the picture to a piece of paper. Then, have them write adjectives to describe the picture or word.

After a few minutes, have students work in pairs to help each other extend their lists of adjectives. You may want to intentionally pair students for a strong partnership where both partners can participate and feel valued. You can use slide 13 to model this activity using a cow for the noun.

After students have a list of adjectives have them write a sentence(s) using one or more of their adjectives and their noun.

This activity can become a center activity by printing additional sets of the picture cards and placing them with writing paper at a station.


20 Minute(s)

Display slide 13 if you are using the Lesson Slides. Explain to students how to create an acrostic. Provide each student with a sheet of paper and writing utensil. Have students work independently to make a Vocabulary Acrostic using their name with adjectives about themselves.

Opportunities for Advanced Learners

Option #1: Have students use sticky notes to mark adjectives they find in texts of their choosing.

Option #2: Have students create a product describing the four seasons using the attached Four Seasons handout. The product can be a slide deck, poster, brochure, or book. Students should include pictures with descriptive captions of each season, a list of adjectives describing the season, and sentences to tell about things they enjoy about each season.

Option #3: Using the attached Add to the Story handout, have students rewrite a simple paragraph using adjectives to make the sentences more interesting.