Main and Helping Verbs

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SWBAT use and identify main and helping verbs correctly in sentences.

Big Idea

Students play a game to learn to identify and use main and helping verbs correctly in sentences.


1 minutes


9 minutes

I tell students, today, we will learn about verb phrases.  A verb phrase includes a main and a helping verb.  A main verb is the most important verb in a sentence.  A helping verb may come before a main verb.  I write 2 sentences on the board to use as examples - Giant anteaters have developed unique tongues and noses.  "Developed" is the main or most important verb in the sentence.  "have" is the helping verb.  Another example is - An anteater may rest for up to 15 hours a day.  "Rest" is the main verb.  "may" is the helping verb.  Then, I get students to help me list examples of helping verbs on the board (i.e., had, has, was, were, might, could, are, did, can, will, does, should, may, am is, are, etc.). We say the words on the list again and I erase them.  Students, then, take a few minutes and think of a sentence that includes a main and a helping verb and write it on their paper.  Next, I allow them to think-pair-share their responses.  We, then, share some as a whole group and identify the main and helping verbs.  The students and I correct incorrect responses. Because my students give me lots of variety in correct and incorrect helping verbs, I teach them a song to help them remember the helping verbs.  (Click here to see words to the "Helping Verb Song" sung to the tune of "Jingle Bells.")


30 minutes

Students break into 2 teams and view sentences on a Powerpoint presentation.  Each person on each team must read the sentence aloud and identify the main and helping verbs in each sentence.  The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner and receives small treats!


20 minutes

To close this lesson, I ask students to write a short narrative which includes main and helping verbs in some of the sentences.  Then, they exchange narratives with a partner and the partner circles the main verbs and underlines the helping verbs in the narrative.  Students discuss and justify answers afterwards.  My students enjoy this activity because it allows them to be both the student and "the teacher."  The are able to practice the objective skill of the lesson, as well as evaluate the work of their classmates.