Lesson plan

Show Me the Adjectives!

Help your students develop their creative writing skills with this lesson, which features the Adjective-Adjective-Noun strategy. Young writers will be inspired to show, not tell.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to express specific (showing) details in their writing.

(5 minutes)
  • Tell students that today, they will learn how to turn their telling details into showing details. Give an example of each type of detail.
  • Ask students to define a telling detail. Ask students to define a showing detail. Define for students if they have difficulty: A telling detail is a general detail. It does not give your readers a lot of information. A showing detail is a specific detail. It gives your readers additional information and answers their questions.
  • Define additional key terms if needed.
(20 minutes)
  • Display the Adjective-Adjective-Noun organizer for students to view. Explain its contents and the process for filling it out. First, it's important to record the noun so you know the focus of the description. Then, record the adjectives that specifically describe the noun.
  • Tell students you're going to read a story to find as many adjectives as possible. Point out that authors use adjectives to paint a picture.
  • Begin to read your chosen story. Think aloud about the adjectives you read and how they help you paint a picture in your mind. List the adjectives on chart paper or on the board. You can sort the adjectives by attribute if you desire (color, size, shape, appearance, texture, etc.).
  • After reading, reread the list of adjectives. Discuss how you were able to paint a picture in your mind due to the author's choice of words.
  • Next, refer to the Adjective-Adjective-Noun organizer. Tell students you are going to paint a picture for them by recording adjectives to describe nouns (refer to the pre-made teacher example and the list of adjectives and nouns if needed).
  • Record a noun. Then, record two adjectives to describe the noun. Make sure the adjectives are precise. Complete the entire organizer.
  • Choose two examples from the organizer and write a complete sentence for each, using the noun and both adjectives. When done, reread each sentence. Ask students if they were able to paint a picture in their mind. Have them quickly sketch the picture that was painted in their mind.
(15 minutes)
  • Display another blank Adjective-Adjective-Noun organizer, and tell students it's their turn to paint a picture for you.
  • Choose a student to share a noun. Record it. Select another student to give you two precise adjectives to describe the noun. Ask if it makes sense, and have students quickly sketch a picture it paints for them in their minds.
  • Continue in the same manner until the organizer is completed.
  • Choose a student to select an example to form a complete sentence. Choose another student to do the same. Reread each sentence to make sure it's precise and makes sense.
(20 minutes)
  • Before allowing them to work independently, ask students to turn and talk to a partner about the purpose of and process for completing the Adjective-Adjective-Noun organizer.
  • Pass out a copy of the Adjective-Adjective-Noun organizer to each individual and a list of simple adjectives and nouns. Tell students they will complete the same organizer you modeled for them. Encourage them to use the list of adjectives and nouns.
  • Tell your students to choose two examples from their organizer to write two complete sentences for.
  • Enrichment: Encourage students to complete the organizer without the help of the adjective and noun list.
  • Support: Pair students who need direction and support with students who show strength in writing. Have these students use only one adjective to describe each noun.
(5 minutes)
  • As students are working independently, walk around and check in with each student.
  • Observe to see if students are completing the Adjective-Adjective-Noun organizer accurately or having difficulty with the process.
  • Record your observations.
  • If additional time is needed for assessment, make observations and notes during closing.
(10 minutes)
  • Divide class into pairs or groups of three. Each will share their written examples and sentences.
  • Select three students to read their examples and sentences to the class. Have the audience share questions and comments.
  • Next, ask students what they have to include to paint a picture for their readers.
  • Restate the purpose of using showing details rather than telling details, and remind students that their writing can be more powerful with the use of precise adjectives.

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