Teaching Adjectives and adverbs can seem like a basic skill for upper elementary students, but it is an essential language skill that can’t be skimmed over! You may be tempted to blow past teaching your students these language pieces because they’ve been taught them before, but I’d encourage you to give them the attention they deserve.
Adjectives and adverbs are essential to students' language skills. They have particular places inside of sentences, and particular rules about usage. They are also powerful writing tools that make sentences and stories more descriptive and specific. In fact, I recently wrote a blog post about descriptive writing with elementary students.
How to Teach Adjectives and Adverbs
I always start with a mini-lesson. I make a t-chart labeled adjective on one side and adverb on the other. At the top of the chart, I give my students a definition of each. Then, we begin creating a list of adjectives and adverbs. To generate a list of adjectives, I show my students a random object from the classroom, such as a pillow or chair. Then, I ask them to describe it. For adverbs, I have a student act out a movement, such as jumping or walking. Then, we describe how they are completing the action. All of these words go on the t-chart!
Next, we construct our anchor charts together. For the adjective anchor chart, I make several categories showing what adjectives can describe, such as shape, size, color, number, texture, taste, smell, and sound. Then, we look at the t-chart and determine which category the words go into. For the adverb anchor chart, we also make categories. These include how, how often, when, and where. We then use the t-chart words to fill in those categories.
Finally, we make a quick anchor chart that covers both adjectives and adverbs in one spot.
After creating this anchor chart with students, I like for students to have a reference sheet in their notebook or journal that they can refer back to. I use these FREE language and grammar reference sheets because they are easy to print and glue in.
I also really like using flip books. This Grammar Skill Review flip book requires students fill in information they have learned to create their reference guide. It’s also an easy way to keep all the grammar skills together.
Now that we have reviewed adjectives and adverbs, and have reference materials to use, I want my students to practice adding them into their writing. I have several activities that I like to use for expounding on and challenging my students' grammar knowledge and writing.
Adjectives and Adverbs Practice Activities
Language Skill of the Day: One of my favorite ways to continuously practice adjectives and adverbs is by adding it into my daily instruction. I use a Language Skill of the Day journal that includes several activities per week to challenge students' grammar skills. It includes a daily review skill plus additional challenge activities each week. It has enough activities for 40 weeks of practice!
Classroom I Spy: Have students play an I Spy game with a partner. To play, students will describe an object in the classroom with several different adjectives. Then, their partner will try to guess what the object is. They will then switch roles in the game.
Topple Blocks Game: I’m definitely a sucker for a fun classroom game, which is why I love using Topple Blocks. I created this Topple Blocks review game specifically for adjectives and adverbs. Each colored block has six questions. When a student pulls a certain color, their entire team must answer a question that corresponds to the color.
Using Pictures: Using pictures to teach parts of speech is a simple way to challenge students' thinking. In this picture activity, students will challenge their knowledge of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions. There are three types of questions. Observe it asks students to make observations about the image. Answer it gives students a specific part of speech to focus on. Apply it or write it includes a task using a part of speech.
Charades: This is a bit of a twist on the classic charades! Have students write down an action on a sticky note. Then, students will draw an action and create that movement. Have students guess that the action is, but they have to add an adverb to it! For example, if a student draws “skip”, they will then act it out. A student may answer “slowly skip”!
More Language Tips
I hope you find these activities useful for teaching adjectives and adverbs. If you want a guide for teaching nouns and verbs to students, I have a blog post about that as well! It contains free anchor chart templates and activities for teaching nouns and verbs.