Nelson Packrat

story by Sharyn Abdullah , illustrated by Anna Bron

Learning intention:

I am learning to understand how the meaning of sentences can be enriched using verb groups/phrases.

Success criteria:

  • I can manipulate objects to reflect verb groups/phrases.
  • I can identify verb groups/phrases in a story.
  • I can compose a brief narrative.
  • I can include verb groups/phrases in my narrative.

Essential knowledge:

Ensure students are aware what verb groups/phrases are. Students should be aware of the following, that verb groups/phrases:

  • add more information about the verb
  • consist of a main verb, and one or more auxiliary or modal verbs as modifiers
  • create tense, express modality, create a passive voice

Prior to the lesson, gather a variety of objects found around the classroom, for example, paperclips, pencils, cuddly toys/cushions, books etc. Distribute these items around the classroom. On the board, display the following list of verbs and verb groups:

  • wobbled unsteadily
  • sauntered slowly and gracefully
  • strutted confidently and with poise

Ensure students know the meanings of each of the words in the verb groups/phrases displayed and provide access to an online dictionary, such as if necessary.

Select one of the items (e.g., a cushion) and one of the verbs/verb groups (e.g., wobbled unsteadily). Discuss how the object might move in the manner described in the verb/verb group. Invite students to share their ideas by physically moving the object in a way to match the verb/verb group (for example, moving the cushion by wobbling it across the desk, making it look like it might tumble over).

Place students in pairs and instruct them to rotate around the areas where the objects have been placed, experimenting with moving the objects in the manner of some of the verbs/verb groups on the board.

Once students have had time to experiment, invite them to share some of the ways they moved the objects, modelling the actions for their peers.

Inform students that they will now be analysing a story to see verb groups/phrases in a text.

Read the first Nelson Packrat in its entirety. Refer to page 13 and discuss some of the descriptive verb groups/phrases that the author has used. Underline these in the text. Sample responses include:

  • lived in a small cave
  • looked around the tunnels of their nest
  • get into your room
  • collected too many things

Instruct students to work with their partner, identifying further examples of descriptive verb groups/phrases. Students may underline these on a photocopy of the story from the magazine or list the verb groups/phrases in their workbooks.

Inform students that they will be composing their own short narrative featuring descriptive verbs/verb groups.

Refer students back to the objects they manipulated earlier. Collaboratively select one of the objects, for example a pencil. Tell students that for this activity the object will be their main character and that they will be writing about Nelson Packrat trying to swap them for something just as he does in the story.

Collaboratively compose a brief narrative from the point of view of the selected object, where Nelson Packrat is trying to swap them. Remind students to include descriptive verbs/verb groups in their story. Draw students’ attention back to the list of verb groups/phrases displayed earlier and the examples identified in Nelson Packrat for ideas. A sample response is provided below:

I could not believe it! That rat was trying to drag me into its nest in place of a necklace. It kept bashing me against books as it pulled me along. I needed to stop him from taking me. I tried rolling off the table and nearly made it when the rat sprang into action and grabbed me.

Instruct students to select one of the objects and compose their own brief story from the point of view of the object, about Nelson Packrat trying to swap them. Students can work independently, in pairs or in small groups for this activity depending on preference and the amount of support required.