How to Write with Vivid Verbs

Author: Dorie Thurston
Lesson Plan:

SUBJECT: Language Arts - Using Very Vivid Verbs


  • 3rd grade Reading 3.7 d) Use dictionary, glossary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, and other reference books, including online reference materials. Writing 3.9 d) Include descriptive details that elaborate the central idea
  • 4th grade Reading 4.3 d) Use word-reference materials, including the glossary, dictionary, and thesaurus. Writing 4.7 e) Utilize elements of style, including word choice and sentence variation. 4.8 f) Incorporate adjectives and adverbs
  • 5th grade Reading 5.4 c) Use dictionary, glossary, thesaurus, and other word-reference materials. Writing 5.8 d) Use precise and descriptive vocabulary to create tone and voice

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION: This lesson will encourage students to use more vivid verbs; verbs that give a very clear picture of the action taken place, and discourage the usage of "is" and "was."

    OBJECTIVE: The student will:
    Know the definition of a vivid verb.
    Be able to find vivid verbs in literature.
    Use vivid verbs in their creative writing assignments.
    Use the thesaurus that they have created as an aid in writing.

    MATERIALS NEEDED: Thank You for the Thistle, a children's book with many vivid verbs, by Dorie Thurston and worksheet called Thinking Thesaurus found at

    LESSON PLAN: Hand out a "Thinking Thesaurus" worksheet to the class with WENT, RAN, SAID, and SAW at the top of the page. Explain to them that at the top of the page are some common verbs used in writing. They do not give a clear mental picture of exactly how an action took place. Ask the students to listen to the vivid verbs used in the story, Thank You for the Thistle (or other story with vivid verbs) and write them down under the common verb they see on the worksheet.
    Write the sentence "The dog went down the street." on the board. Ask the students to rewrite this sentence with a more vivid verb. Call on students to read their sentences to the class and see how each student painted an entirely different picture. (The dog dashed down the street. The dog danced down the street. The dog wandered down the street.)

    ASSESSMENT: Copy one or two pages from the book and have them underline the vivid verbs. Have students write a story about Happy, the clown, who could not just WALK in a parade he …… Have them use the vivid verbs from their "Thinking Thesaurus" to tell several different ways the clown went down the street.