Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, K-3

In the BrainPOP ELL movie, I Was Shy (L1U5L3), Ben describes what he was like as a young child using the past tense of the verb to be. But are his memories accurate or just flattering? In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades K-8, students describe themselves and others using adjectives and the past simple of the verb to be (was/were).

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Research an adjective in depth, and represent it in a Word Map.
  2. Describe characters in the movie using the past simple verb to be. (was/were)
  3. Write short descriptions of themselves as young children using the past simple verb to be (was/were).
  4. Use the past simple verb to be (was/were) to describe what they were like as young children.



was, were, yesterday, today, little, big, loud, quiet, shy, etc.


Make copies of the Word Map, or have students create their own.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Adjectives. To prepare for this lesson, the students might need more practice with adjectives. Brainstorm adjectives they know on the board, creating a web with synonyms and antonyms. To find more adjectives, suggest that students use other reference materials, such as a dictionary or thesaurus, either print or digital. Alternatively, have the students create their own Adjective Webs. Then have students choose one adjective to research and study in depth, and represent in a Word Map.
  2. Little Ben. Before showing the movie I Was Shy (L1U5L3), display the image of Little Ben, and ask partners to brainstorm what they think Ben was like when he was a little boy. Generate a list of their ideas on the board, using their responses in sentences with the verb was. Leave the list of sentences on the board. After watching the movie, I Was Shy (L1U5L3), compare students’ list with what they discovered about Little Ben.
  3. Ben Was, Moby Was. After the movie, put a list on the board or on chart paper of the phrases Ben used to describe himself and Moby when Ben was little (or ask the class to help you remember). Some of the phrases are about Ben and some are about Moby; some are used in the affirmative and some in the negative. The descriptions are: a noisy child, loud, happy and noisy, quiet, shy and quiet, a good student, a good friend, the best kid in class, always in trouble, a helper to the teacher and other students. Have the students work in pairs to make two lists: one for Ben and one for Moby. Encourage them to discuss and list the descriptions that Ben attributed to himself and to Moby. Check their answers by sharing their lists with the class, in complete sentences using was or wasn't. The descriptions that Ben remembered are: Ben: (not) a noisy child, shy and quiet, a good student, a good friend, a helper to the teacher and other students, the best kid in the class. Moby: happy and noisy, (not) shy and quiet, loud, always in trouble, (not) the best kid in class.
  4. When I Was Little. Now ask the students what they were and weren’t like when they were little. Have them do a Quick Write and answer the question in a few descriptive sentences using was and wasn't. For example, I was silly. I wasn’t tall. To check, collect all the papers and then pass them out again randomly. Then have the students read the papers they received and the class guess who they're about.

Was It An Accident? (L1U5L4)
Happy Birthday! (L1U5L5)