Lesson plan

Using Adjectives and Verbs to Make Writing Come to Life

Imagery is one of the most important tools in a narrative writer's arsenal. In this lesson, students will will learn to craft vivid scenes by selecting powerful verbs and adjectives, as well as to critique descriptive writing using the same criteria.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to identify verbs and adjectives in a description, as well as to explain how verb and adjective choices create a visual impact on the reader. Students will also learn to revise vague descriptions, replacing nonspecific words with vivid verbs and adjectives.

(5 minutes)
  • Write the sentence on the board: The dog jumped on the mail carrier.
  • In groups or pairs, have students rewrite the sentence so that it creates a more vivid picture in the reader’s mind.
  • Share revisions, noting students' word choices.
(10 minutes)
  • Project an example of a student revision for the class to look at together.
  • Circle or highlight the words that were added to the new version.
  • Discuss what kind of words were added. Ask questions such as, Are there more vivid verbs? Were adjectives added? Were more specific nouns swapped out for more vague ones?
  • Pose the question: What conclusions can we draw about how to choose words that really paint a picture? Write these student-generated “tips” on chart paper for students to reference as they practice their revision skills throughout the lesson.
(20 minutes)
  • Distribute the What Sounds Better? Verbs and Adjectives worksheet.
  • Select a student to read Description A aloud, asking students to pay attention to the images they see in their mind’s eye as they listen and read along.
  • Have a different student read Description B aloud, again asking students to note the images evoked.
  • Discuss which description creates a more vivid image. Share examples of word and language choices that work particularly well.
  • Complete the rest of the exercise together, with students sharing their own revisions at the end.
(15 minutes)
  • Distribute the Imagery Using Verbs and Adjectives worksheet.
  • Review the directions and example together.
  • Instruct students to revise the worksheet sentences, swapping in better adjectives and verbs to create more vivid imagery.


  • Revise a sentence as a class, discussing each word choice as you go. Pause to ask, What other possibilities are there instead of this word? and Does this really paint a picture? How can we make different choices to offer the reader an image?
  • Have students locate examples of strong imagery in their favorite books.


  • Have students revise part of a narrative that they have previously drafted. Share the “before” and “after” versions with the class.
  • Have students locate examples of strong imagery in their favorite books.
(5 minutes)
  • Distribute a half sheet of paper. Have students copy the sentence The leaf fell from the big tree.
  • Instruct students to circle the verb and underline the adjective, then rewrite the sentence using a more impactful verb and adjective.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask students to share their revisions.
  • Discuss: The ability to use verbs and adjectives to create a vivid image is a powerful tool. Why is this skill so important to writers?

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