The Polar Express is the perfect book to use when having students work with verbs. This book is a beloved tale for the students and it also has a lot of fun and novel words for students to act out! The more opportunities our students have to act things out, the more likely they are to internalize the verbs and use them in their speaking and writing!
This lesson is one that is fun-filled for both teachers and students! I absolutely love playing this game, and the kids certainly do as well. Here is how I introduce and play the game!
By Christmas season, the students and I have been working with verbs a lot. Students know that verbs are action words and that we use them to express all different types of actions when we are speaking and/or writing.
"Today, we are going to practice our knowledge of some verbs! Remember: the more we practice using verbs, the more likely we are to use them when we are speaking and writing! So, in order to build our knowledge, I am going to read you a story and you are going to act out the verbs. Remember: verbs are action words, so you will have to act out everything that you hear that's an action! You'll have to listen closely. If there's a word you don't know, you'll have to try to infer and use what you know to decide what it means! So... let me show you an example. If the story says, "The wind blows," I am going to wave my arms or spin around because I need to act out the verb, blows. Does everyone see what I mean?"
At this point, students will nod their heads and they will understand the premise of the activity. So, the fun begins here!
I will begin to read the Polar Express Book and students will begin to act out as many verbs as they can hear.
Sometimes, as you will see in the video, I even put the chairs in rows like a train and let the students act the verbs out from "the train."
At this point is when the Polar Express Acting Out Verbs activity begins!
As I watch my students act out the many verbs in the story, The Polar Express, I do pay attention to them; this is imperative to this activity. I love doing fun things, but I never do anything that's only fun- learning is always happening (even when the kids don't know it)!
I look for three things when I am informally assessing my students:
1) Who is really listening for the verbs and is immediately acting them out? (on level)
2) Who is having trouble acting out the verbs? (approaching level)
3) Who is catching the really hard verbs and acting them out? (beyond level)
In the end of this activity, I make notes for who needs re-teaching and who really should be congratulated on "paying great attention and acting out the verbs like a pro!"