How to use adjectives to engage students

use adjectives to engage your students

You, SLP are on a quest. Let’s call it a magical quest. A magical quest to find simple, minimal prep ideas requiring things you probably already have in your room, to develop vocabulary. And not just any type of vocabulary. Adjectives. Adjectives make imaginations soar. They allow us to create fantastical pictures. Adjectives are magical, because anything is possible and things come to life when you use them.

I’m going to share three ways to target adjectives for expressive, receptive and written language, so that whether you have mixed groups, or just want to work holistically, targeting adjectives can be much more enriching and fun than you first thought possible.

EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE: All you need are adjectives. Print off a list, get some adjective cards or brainstorm adjectives-write them down-crumple them up and pull them out of a hat. Pick out a
set number of cards (fluffy, dirty, twisted) and make a sentence using all those adjectives. Go wild with your imagination and if you really want to engage a group, get the other members to draw “the fluffy lizard with dirty teeth has a twisted tail’. And for all those sensory bin fans, think about all the extra vocabulary you can teach while targeting other areas!

DIY Adjective Sentences

RECEPTIVE LANGUAGE: Do you realize that while you are working on adjectives, you can also hit those semantic and categorization goals at the same time? The Adjective Hunt is my favorite way to do this. First you have to pick an adjective group such as size, touch, or shape and set out a goal: Let’s go for an Adjective Hunt and find 10 things that feel different. Explore the smooth, wet, sticky, bumpy, rough, slimy and soft things around your room. Flip through the bored, excited, embarrassed, nervous and grumpy feelings in your favourite picture books. Experiment with sound adjectives and create thudding, popping, rasping, crackling and crunching noises. “First person to find 3 things that are round wins a point”. This is all about exploration and it’s really thrilling. Consider supporting your kids with a scaffold of different adjectival groups, or using adjective word banks if coming up with the language is too hard. If you want a mega list of adjectives, then Enchanted Learning has you sorted, otherwise, grab my Adjective Cards and Word Banks if you want them already categorized!

WRITTEN LANGUAGE: Whether you write a simple sentence, review your student’s written sentences or flip through books, you can either go the silly route or the sane route. All you are going to do is add-an-adjective (or two, or three…) wherever you find a spot for one and ask the student to rewrite (and say) the new sentence. Turn “we’re going on a bear hunt” into “we’re going on a noisy, pink bear hunt” or “I got a bike for my birthday” into “I got a shiny, new, red bike for my 7th birthday”. If I’m feeling particularly silly, we pull random adjectives from categories and just see what the sentence becomes.


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Hi, I'm Rebecca.
I encourage SLPs to feel more confident treating speech sound disorders, and make faster progress with their students.


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