Verb Phrase Activities

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Teaching your students to identify and modify verb phrases can help them with both reading and writing. This lesson offers interactive activities that will help your students understand what verb phrases are and why they matter.

The Significance of the Verb Phrase

In any sentence, the verb phrase is the portion that contains the verb and words that modify it, but not the subject of a sentence. Verb phrases might include only one word- the verb itself- or they might include several. Students who understand what verb phrases are can speak, read and write in more complex and nuanced ways. Yet many students chafe when it comes time to learning grammar, since they associate grammar with boredom and irrelevance. One way to combat this problem is by incorporating activities into your instruction. This lesson offers some activities that appeal to a variety of learning styles and help students understand verb phrases.

Visual Activities

The activities in this section are well-suited to the visual learner. Students in this category like to work with art, have images to associate with ideas, or organize their thoughts and concepts graphically.

Draw the Verb Phrase

Give your students a list of ten to fifteen sentences. Explain that their first job is to underline only the verb in each sentence. Then, they should zero in on one or two of the sentences, and circle the verb phrases in these sentences. Finally, using colored pencils, they should create illustrations that depict these verb phrases. Give your students a chance to share their illustrations with each other.

Verb Phrase Organizer

In the middle of a large piece of paper, write the words, 'verb phrase,' and draw a circle around it. Then, draw a series of lines coming out from the circle, creating a web. At the end of each line, make a box. Ask your students to come up and write things in the box that they think or know to be true about verb phrases. Once most of your students have contributed, you will have created an interactive graphic organizer that explains what a verb phrase is and does.

Kinesthetic Activities

Some learners really like to work with their hands and bodies and do their best learning when they are moving or touching things. These activities will help such students understand verb phrases.

Act the Phrase Out

Ask your students to work in groups to write two or three sentences that contain verb phrases. Then, collect all of their sentences. Read one sentence out loud at a time. Each time you read a sentence, your class should act out what is happening in the verb phrase. For instance, if a sentence says, 'Janie quickly eats her sandwich,' your students should act out what it would look like to eat quickly. This activity might also lead to an interesting discussion about why some verbs are easier to enact than others.

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