Action Verb Games and Activities to Make English Fun

, Staff Writer
Updated September 15, 2017
action verb games being played in classroom
    action verb games being played in classroom
    monkeybusinessimages / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Playing action verb games solves a lot of problems in the classroom. After all, most teachers know that teaching grammar can be tough, especially when it comes to keeping our grammar lessons fun for students. Games are a perfect way to make learning about verbs fun and educational. Discover some great ideas for teaching your students about the function of action verbs in a fun, interactive manner.

Defining Action Verbs

Action verbs express action of the subject by describing what a person, animal, force of nature, or active thing can do. Unlike helping verbs or linking verbs, action verbs directly convey what the subject is doing, such as moving, shaking, running, falling, and everything in between.

Teaching Action Verbs

As you teach the concept of action verbs, make sure students understand the function these verbs serve in sentences and how they differ from other verbs, such as linking verbs or helping verbs. Start by comparing action words vs. non-action words to illustrate the difference.


Fun Game Ideas for Action Verbs

Once you’ve shared a selection of action verb examples with your students, games are a great way to enhance their understanding and retention. The best action verb games are the ones that are active and entertaining. After all, if the verbs are active, your students should be, too!

Action Verb Charades

With this simple game a student acts out motions for their peers, and the other students collectively guess as many actions represented by the charade as they can.

  1. Assign a student to jog in place at the front of the class on their turn.
  2. Instruct the students to guess many action verbs associated with this action (such as jogging, running, moving, breathing, panting, and exercising).
  3. Let the list continue to build until the students are unable to come up with more action verbs or until a student lists a verb that is not an action verb.
  4. Help your students understand their mistakes or offer suggestions of action verbs they may have missed.

Repeat this game with other action verbs and actors. You can either assign an activity to students or have students pull cards with action verbs (pictures or words) out of a basket. This game is great because it takes no set up or clean up, has no supplies, and forces your students to work together since there is no winner.


Cartoon-Based Action Verb Activities

Carefully selected cartoon video clips can be a great teaching tool for elementary school kids. It’s easy to gamify classroom activities that relate to a shared multimedia experience.

  1. Select an age-appropriate cartoon clip that features activities easily identifiable as action verbs.
  2. Assign students to work in pairs.
  3. Show a cartoon clip to the class. During a set timeframe, ask each pair to write as many sentences as possible about the cartoon that are simple and feature action verbs. (Examples include things like “The bunny chased the farmer,” “The bunny ate a sign” or “The bunny ate a carrot.”)
  4. Next, group the students in fours such that two pairs of students are now working together.
  5. Restart the cartoon clip and have these new groups create a combined list of sentences featuring active verbs.
  6. Ask them to see if they can notice any new possible sentences featuring action verbs, and encourage them to build their lists.
  7. Make sure students try to correct each other's mistakes, and walk from group to group to answer any questions that they have.
  8. In the end, have students read their active sentences out loud, and a few students act out the action verbs at the front of the classroom. (If students are having trouble acting out the verbs, challenge them as to whether the sentence really had an action verb in it.)

Reinforce and correct students as they go, pointing out some essential action verbs along the way. You'll be entertaining your students as well as boosting teamwork skills and cooperation. As an added benefit, this very interactive game will get your students moving and out of their seats.


Action Verb Art

Assign students to create an art project that shows their favorite action verb activity. The goal of the artwork is to have classmates be able to guess what activity each member of the class likes the most.

  1. Tell each student to think of his or her favorite activity and an action verb that would describe it.
  2. Tell them that their goal is to create an art project using supplies available in the classroom that shows their favorite activity.
  3. Show them a personal example to make the point of the assignment clear. For example, if you love gardening, show a basic illustration of a stick figure version of you watering plants in an outdoor space. Show it to students and ask them to guess the action verb in your picture.
  4. Tell them that their task is to do the same thing, so that they can show off a favorite activity to their classmates.
  5. Provide students with a selection of art supplies (construction paper, scissors, glue, glitter, stickers, crayons, and any other supplies available in your classroom) and provide them class time to work on the project. (Since this activity combines English and art, you could probably complete it over a couple of class periods in the same day, if needed.)
  6. Ask students to write the action verb on the back of their project so that people won’t see the word. Collect the finished art projects.
  7. Before the next English or art class, hang the art projects on the wall with a basket below each one.
  8. Assign students to groups of three or so. Give each group a different color crayon or marker and some paper, then have the student groups walk around and look at the projects. Tell each group to decide together what action verb is shown in the picture and write their best guess on a piece of paper. The paper goes in the corresponding basket.
  9. Once each group has finished, go through the baskets and read off the action verbs one by one. Ask the class to confirm if each word really is an action verb and discuss why or why not.
  10. If you want there to be a prize, have the class vote on which piece of art best illustrates the action verb it is supposed to show and give a prize to the winner.

This is a fun way to link English and art lessons together in a creative way. Not only will students learn more about action verbs through this activity, but they’ll also get to use their creativity and teamwork skills.


What Can This Object Do?

Select a few items and ask students to come up with a list of possible action verbs the item could be used for. For example, hold up a shoe. Ask students to come up with action verbs the shoe could be used for. They may come up with walking, but they may also come up with more creative options, such as hammering in a nail.

  1. Explain to students that the purpose of the game is for them to come up with as many ways each item you show could actually be used, encouraging them to be creative. Tell them that the only limit is that they have to express their ideas in the form of an action verb.
  2. Show one of the items and ask students to start guessing, recording their ideas on the whiteboard.
  3. Keep going until the ideas stop flowing.
  4. Go through the list with the group, discussing why or why not each item on the list represents an action verb. For a double-duty lesson, also discuss how the exercise they just went through is an exercise in creative problem solving and how they can use their imagination to come up with innovative ideas.
  5. Repeat with another item if time allows.

If you want this to be a game with prizes, let students vote on the most useful (or most creative) suggestion for each item and award prizes accordingly.


More Ideas to Get Your Lesson Plan Started

Creating lesson plans that are interactive, fun and educational does not have to be a difficult process, especially when you incorporate games. If you find these games helpful and your students seem to benefit from them, consider adding more games to the classroom experience. These irregular verb games may be a good next step for your class, but games don’t have to be limited to verb lessons. Expand your horizons with these cool grammar games for kids in the classroom for inspiration.