Using Adjectives to Paint Pictures with Words

Contributor: Kristen Gardiner. Lesson ID: 10400

How would you describe your ability to describe things? How would you tell about something that was really neat? Using a video song and examples, learn how to use adjectives to make your writing live!



English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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What do you see? A bunch of bugs? Would that adequately describe the picture above? Not likely! You need some adjectives!

Which One?

Imagine you ask a friend which butterfly is his or her favorite, and he or she simply replied, "That one," without pointing or giving any extra information. You would automatically ask, "Which one?" hoping for more detail.

What kind of information would let you know which one was your friend's favorite? Discuss with your teacher what words you can use to describe these butterflies.

Let's Pretend

  • After discussing this picture for a moment with your teacher, ask your teacher to turn away for a few moments.
  • Pretend your teacher never saw this picture.
  • Describe the picture in writing using your best describing words.
  • Tell exactly what you see in the picture.
  • How many butterflies are there?
  • What colors are they?
  • Are their wings opened or closed?
  • Are they making a shape?
  • Are they happy?
  • Are they all the same size?
  • What color are their bodies?
  • Do they have long or short antennae sticking out of their heads?
  • Do they remind you of anything?

How Did You Do?

Now let your teacher read your writing before looking back at the picture. How did you do? You probably used words such as five to describe the number of butterflies. Maybe you said four in circle and used little or small, and yellow to describe the one in the middle. I'm sure you also named all of their colors, including blue, green, red, pink and yellow. Maybe you said they had black bodies and long, black antennae. Maybe you even said they were happy, or sad, or mad.

If you used any of these words, great job! You're describing nouns with adjectives!

What Exactly are Adjectives?

Adjectives are words that are used to describe nouns and pronouns.

Any common or proper person, place, thing, or animal can be described using adjectives. In the grammar world, we say adjectives modify nouns. Modify is just a fancy way of saying describe or make more notable.

In our writing, we want to make our important nouns more noticeable to our readers. Adjectives can appeal to any of the five senses and even talk about a person's or animal's personality traits and attitude.

Let's look at a few more pictures and see what adjectives we can think of to describe them. Remember, articles (the, an, and a) are also adjectives that point to common nouns!

Unpack Your Adjectives

Here's a three-minute song and video that explains all about adjectives that I think you you'll enjoy. So settle in and Unpack your adjectives:

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Pack Up Your Adjectives

Now here's where things get fun!

  1. First, you'll need about 8 brown paper lunch bags.
  2. Now go on a little hunt around your house for a few things that feel very different when you touch them (no food, live animals,or anything sharp!). Look for things like cotton balls, small stuffed animals, small rocks or pebbles, an emery board or piece of sandpaper, a marble, a squishy toy, a small candle -- anything safe with a describable texture that fits in the bag.
  3. Line up the bags with a piece of paper in front of each bag.
  4. Ask your teacher to place his or her hand in each bag without looking inside and write down three adjectives to describe how each thing feels.
  5. When your teacher is finished, show him or her what was inside each bag.
  6. Now ask your teacher to do the same for you. Ask your teacher to replace the objects in the bags with new ones and repeat the process, this time with you feeling inside the bags (without looking) and writing three adjectives to describe what you feel.
  7. When you are finished, ask your teacher to show you what was in the bags.
  8. Pick one or two of the items and write a sentence about each of the items using the describing words you wrote on the paper.
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