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Language and Communication use adjectives to describe and classify objects  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


The child will understand and use a variety of adjectives.

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Early years skill:not specified
Early years typical range:not specified
P-scales/Curriculum skill:Materials and Their Properties
P-scales/Curriculum level:L2
TAP skill:Expressive Language
TAP level:TAP72
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section:Primary (5-11yrs) info
Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Classify the object 1
  • A selection of common objects (you could use pictures instead)
  • Suitable adjectives could include:
  • common colours (red etc.) plus multi-coloured
  • rough/smooth
  • round
  • flat
  • edible
  • size terms (big etc.)
  • expensive/cheap
  • old/new/old-fashioned
  • striped
  • spotted
  • patterned
  • metallic
  • wooden
  • plastic
  • painted

1. Decide on a common category e.g. "things which are round" or "things which are red".

2. Help the child to sort the items into 2 groups according to whether they fit the category or not (i.e. a 'red' group and a 'not red' group).

Classify the object 2

A selection of common objects (you could use pictures instead)

2 sorting rings (draw two overlapping circles on a large sheet of paper if these are not available)

Category labels (optional)

1. Decide on two common categories e.g. "things which are round" and "things which are red".

2. Place the sorting rings on the table so that they overlap.

3. Explain that one ring is for items that have one feature (e.g. "round"). Explain that the other ring is for items that have the other feature (e.g. "red"). Explain that where the rings overlap, is where things that have both features go (see diagram on the left). Items which do not fit either category are left outside the rings.

4. Add labels if you are using them.

5. Help the child to sort the items into groups according to which category they fit.

To make this activity more difficult, you could sort according to three categories.

Spider chart
  • Pencil and paper


1. Write an adjective in the centre of the page (the spider's 'body').

2. Help the child to think of lots of examples of items that can be described by that adjective and write these at the end of the spider's 'legs'. E.g. if the word is 'yellow', examples could be sun, lemon, banana etc.

Example of a spider chart:

What's in the bag?
  • Bag
  • Common objects


1. Place a selection of objects into a bag.

2. Ask the child to pull an object from the bag, name it and describe it (e.g. "this is a spoon. It is smooth"). You could challenge the child to come up with one, two or three (or more) describing words.


No materials required

1. Help the child identify the first letter/sound in their name.

2. Ask the child to think of an adjective (describing word) that starts with the same sound as their name. Other children can help if one child is stuck.

3. Make up nick names such as "clever Kate" or "marvellous Muhibur" for everyone in the group. Try to keep descriptions positive (e.g. "amazing Abdul" rather than "awful Abdul").

Works well as a group activity - could be used as an ice-breaker.

I spy adjectives

No materials required.

Play "I spy". Instead of identifying items by their initial letter, identify them by an adjective: "I spy with my little eye something that is fluffy".

  • Any book about different animals
  • "Touch and feel" type books
  • "All Kinds of Bodies" - Emma Brownjohn
  • The "Children just like me" series - Annabel Kindersley and Barnabas Kindersley


Any of the books listed can be useful when working on adjectives. Ask the child to describe what is in the picture.

For "children just like me", ask them to say how the child in the book is different to or the same as themselves.

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