Describe It in Order

Scripture: 2 Samuel 6-9 and I Chronicles 13-17

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn that God gave specific instructions regarding the Ark of the Covenant and intended to be obeyed.
  • Students will learn the word order for nouns and adjectives in English.
  • Students will participate in an activity that allows them to practice correct word order for adjectives and nouns.  

Guiding Questions:How can we describe things in English using the correct adjective and noun word order?

Materials: small piece of paper for each student, pencil, miscellaneous items to build and create with

Note: this lesson focuses on the order of adjectives before a noun. This is a skill that native English speakers usually do automatically without realizing it, but ESL students must be taught. The lesson uses terms such as nouns and adjectives (which makes it slightly more advanced). You may need to define these terms or use general terms such as “describing words” and “things.” Use visuals as much as possible and use concrete things that rather than anything abstract.

Review the story of the Ark returning to Jerusalem focusing especially on how it was built for a specific purpose and that God gave detailed instructions not only for how to build it but even how to carry it correctly. It should have been carried by poles. It should not touched by hands as Uzzah touched it and it should not have been on a cart. When God gives directions, it is very important that we pay attention to details and follow them exactly as he intends and in the correct order.

Explain that in written and spoken language, the order of words is important so that we can better understand each other. Give students an example of a scrambled sentence in their language with words out of order. Then show the proper order. Then show them an English sentence. In English, there are many rules for word order, but this lesson will focus on how to put adjectives (describing words) in the right order.

First, tell students that English adjectives always come before the noun that is being described. There are many ways to describe a noun (thing). As a class make a list of adjectives on the board under 4 pre-determined categories: number, size, shape, color.

Number: two, many, few, seven, a couple, a, the, four
Size: big, huge, small, tiny, heavy, medium
Shape: round, flat, sharp, smooth, circular, square, rectangular
Color: blue, pink, red, yellow, green, gold
Next to each adjective draw a small picture or representative sketches so students know what the words mean. This will be used as a reference chart. Highlight the colors appropriately.

Explain to students that when there are multiple adjectives, they always follow this order: number, size, shape, color. Show students an artist’s depiction of the Ark of the Covenant. As a class chose words to describe the Ark (this part does not have to be in the proper order). Then write the phrase for all to see using the proper order of words. Example: The big, rectangular, gold Ark of the Covenant

For the activity, allow students to create their own small structure or work of art.
Have students create something using any materials that you have around. It can be chenille wires, recyclable materials, papers, markers, clay, Play dough, or anything else you have available. Give students 10-30 minutes to make their creation depending on how much time you have. The more time you have the more varied, creative and “messy” their materials can be. After students have completed their creations, set their art up in a circle, line, or on tables. Give each student a piece of paper and pencil. Let them rotate around and write an English description of the creations that their peers made. Make sure that students can access the reference chart for ideas and word-order.
Share them at the end.

Additional Questions:

  • How is the structure of word order the same and different than in your first language?
  • What are some different ways of describing the Ark?

Supplemental Activity: Students can expand their chart and descriptions to include more abstract and detailed adjectives. Here is the English word order rule for more adjectives: quantity, value/opinion, size, temperature, age, shape, color, origin, material

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