Birthday Bob

part one of a two-part story by Geoffrey McSkimming , illustrated by Douglas Holgate

Learning intention:

I am learning to analyse the author’s choice of adjectives, adverbs and verbs so that I can evaluate characters in a text.


Success criteria:

  • I can define the terms adjective, adverb and verb.
  • I can identify evaluative language.
  • I can judge characters based on their descriptive language.


Essential Knowledge:


After reading the text as a class, ask students what they think about the personalities of each of the characters. Question their responses, e.g. If a student says Captain Ahab is brave, ask them why they think that and encourage them to use examples from the text.


Draw a three-column table on the board and write the words Adjectives, Adverbs and Verbs as the headings. Ask students to define each of them. In brackets next to each word, write the meaning, so that it looks something like: Adjectives (describing word)/Adverbs (describes a verb)/Verb (doing word).


As a class, parse the first two pages (up to the sentence ending with: why we’re heading off to Fondue Island) for adjectives, adverbs and verbs to specifically help describe the characters. Write answers on the board in the relevant columns. Use different colours to signify different characters.



Adjectives:       (Ahab) – bold, salty, alert, deep (voice)

Adverbs:          (Ahab) – mighty (pleased) especially (delighted), steadily (steering)

(Shasta) – softly (squawked)

Verbs:              (Ahab) – chugged, scanned, murmured

(Shasta) – making (list), clacked (beak), wrote, checked, jotting, squawked.


Model looking at the words associated with Ahab and give an evaluation of his character. An example answer is that he’s a brave and keen adventurer who is very good at his job. Guide students to do the same with Shasta. An example answer may be that she’s meticulous and clever, with a sense of self-satisfaction for a job well done.


Sort students into groups of three and label them A, B and C. Students labelled A will be adjective specialists, students labelled B will be adverb specialists and students labelled C will be verb specialists. They will complete the task as a jigsaw, which means they will leave their home group for now and join members from other groups who match their specialty. Collaboratively, groups parse the rest of the text and find their specialty words. Remind students to colour-code each word according to characters (for example, words associated with Ahab could be in red, Shasta in blue and Bob in green). This activity could also be done using coloured sticky notes.


Once complete, students return to their home groups and collate their answers. Home groups will then write an evaluation of each character using the words they’ve found. Answers can be shared with the class at the end.