List of Lively Verbs
I recently heard from Nancy, a teacher in Bangor, Maine, asking what types of resources I’d recommend attaching to fourth grade writing folders. Knowing that action brings energy to writing, I suggested she attach a list of lively verbs. It turns out that this is not an easy list to find.
So what to do? Certainly, Nancy could have her class brainstorm a list, but we all know that these initial or “cold attempts” often do not generate the inspired responses we’d hoped for. So I asked some children’s authors to help me generate a list.
Dian Curtis Regan was the first to respond. She wrote: “When I was writing the Ghost Twins series I was working so fast, I created ‘Regan’s cheat sheet’ for finding verbs quickly. I still use the list!” Some of the verbs on Dian’s list:
I’ve actually used this technique with students. Have them select a topic and then list all the verbs they think they may use in their piece.
For example, Jo Stanbridge is currently writing about famous women aviators. She writes: “When you’re writing a book about women pilots, you use the word swoop a lot. Also:
Morning slinks onto the savanna and licks up the night shadows one by one.
Sun cartwheels slowly up the sky, herding hippopotami.
You might also look to Toni Buzzeo’s books.
Little Loon and Papa includes these verbs:
And in Dawdle Duckling, she employs paired alliterative verbs:
dawdles and dreams
preens and plays
splashes and spins
dunks and dips
flaps and flutters
looks and leaps
And speaking of paired verbs, I couldn’t leave off without mentioning my own book, Andy Shane and the Very Bossy Dolores Starbuckle. In this story, the kids in Andy’s room have a ball:
Flipping and flopping
Twisting and turning
Wiggling and jiggling
Squiggling and giggling.
So inspire your students with some of these actions, and then challenge them to come up with a dynamic list of their own.