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Verbs and Adverbs

  • Lesson Plan Creator: Lynne Larson
  • Grades: Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5
  • National/State Fine Arts Standards: Create, Perform/Present, Connect
  • Tags: Creative Movement
  • Skills Addressed: Creative Problem Solving, Improvisation, Contrasting energy work with verbs and adverbs, Creation of Patterns, Teamwork, Communication/Collaboration, Use of all dance elements

Explore and experience how describing words can change how a movement can look and feel.

Learning Objectives/Goals

To experience kinesthetically verbs and adverbs and discover the differences in “how” a movement can be performed and felt in the body.  To provide students with an experience of learning language arts curriculum using their bodies.

Language Objectives: To practice using describing words to enhance creativity, Dance vocabulary: pattern, locomotor movements, levels, speed, direction, actions, choreography

Materials Needed

Verb List, Adverb List, Music, Drum


Before: Prep movement cards, music, instrument; send pre-movement class materials; ask students review questions or questions about material for lesson if is the first lesson

During: Use questions during instruction to assess students’ progress and retention of ideas.  Also, use first drafts of creative problems to allow for feedback from teacher and students and time to revise.

After: Ask direct questions in relation to the material covered during class, offer ideas of how to expand the exercise to teachers/students, encourage further exploration in the classroom

Lesson Structure and Procedure

  • Begin with an introduction of teacher, an explanation of goals of the class (good listening, follow directions, be creative, be active), set space boundaries, an introduction of the drum and game of “drum says”, like Simon Says, about following directions and starting to move.
  • Spread out in the space and begin the warm-up section.  Using verbs (locomotor movements) to move through the space, exploring different levels (high, medium, and low), different speeds (fast, slow and medium) and different directions (forward, sideways and backwards).   Some examples include: crawl, hop, gallop, leap, etc.
  • Introduce the word Freeze between verbs and emphasize the difference between a frozen shape and movement.  Have them practice and hold their frozen shape for 10 seconds or longer.
  • Introduce the idea of describing words through questioning the students. Give a definition of an adverb and adjective.  What are the differences?  Use adverbs to introduce the idea of a describing word telling us “how” the movement will look.  Practice with the verb, walk.  Give the students some adverbs describing how to walk.  For example: walking awkwardly, walking slowly, walking creatively, etc. Have them experiment with many contrasting ways to walk.  Emphasize the movement must stay a walk, but How they walk can change.
  • Introduce the concept of patterns.  Using just verbs create a pattern with the students (skip, run, roll).  Have them perform it, then add some adverbs (skip joyfully, run slowly, roll sadly).  Have them perform it again and notice the difference. 
  • Place the students in small groups.  Have them come up with their own verb patterns.  Perform those for one another.  Then, either, give the students some adverbs to add to their verb pattern or have them come up with their own adverbs or select adverbs from a hat.  Perform the pattern again with the addition of the adverbs and notice the difference between the first version and the second version.

Extension to the Lesson

If there is additional time, add a pathway to the pattern.  Have students select a straight, curving or zigzag pathway to their pattern or a combination of these.  Students could also plan a path in the space, drawing the path out on paper and then putting their pattern on the path.

Follow-Up Activities

Use describing words to change the energy of any movement sequence.  A great tool for choreography and to generate new ideas.

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What People are Saying

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This activity was valuable because it helped students make connections between dance, rhythm, healthy lifestyles, and expression. The students were impressed by the talent of the dancers and it was motivating to them.
Opportunities for art and expression are so limited at school but so essential and valuable for all students, especially those who struggle to learn through traditional methods. My Kindergarteners have been dancing since you left!
This was so engaging. I looked around the auditorium and every student was watching. Not one person was talking or distracted
This activity is valuable to teachers and students because it gives them a creative outlet. We need movement in the classroom to engage, energize and deepen student learning.
I got great ideas on how to incorporate movement into math and science lessons.
I loved how you made movement and exercise relatable to the students. The dancers were full of energy and there was very little down time so students stayed engaged.
Our children were captivated by the performance. They listened to you and they were learning without knowing. They usually giggle when bodies are shown and talked about. But the way you presented it was so tastefully done, they now do poses and movement around the room and outside. You brokesome barriers and they took that permission and literally ran with it!