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

In the BrainPOP ELL movie, Was it An Accident? (L1U5L4), Moby shows up at Ben’s house, bandaged from head to toe! Ben asks Moby where, when and how the accident happened, using the past simple of the verb to be. In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades K-8, students write questions for Moby, simulate a news report, and interview a family member, using questions with was and were.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Ask wh- questions in the past simple using the verb to be.
  2. Simulate a live news report with questions and answers.
  3. Conduct an interview, and then transform their notes into a narrative paragraph.



ago, last, then, who, what, when, where, why, how, yes, no

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Questions for Moby. Before showing the movie Was it An Accident? (L1U5L4), show the class the opening screen of Moby sitting in the chair all bandaged up. Tell the class that Moby was in an accident! Have them write down questions that they want to ask him about the accident, using the past tense of to be (was and were) and wh- questions. For example: Where was the accident? What time was it? Who were you with? After watching the movie, have the students check their list of questions to see if any are still unanswered. They can answer each other's questions based on what they learned in the movie.
  2. News Reporter. After a repeated viewing of the movie Was it An Accident? (L1U5L4), have students work in pairs to do a live news broadcast. Student A (the reporter) asks Student B (Ben) about what happened to Moby using the past simple form of the verb to be. News reporters should ask Wh- questions (e.g., Where was Moby?), rather than yes/no questions (e.g., Was Moby at home?). The student playing Ben should answer the questions in complete sentences using the past simple of the verb to be (e.g., Moby was at home.). If time allows, students can switch roles and try to ask different questions. Give students time to rehearse their news broadcasts, and then perform them for the class, as if on a real news show. If you can, record the broadcasts, to make the activity more real and fun.
  3. Interview. Have students interview an older family member or friend about what they were like, or what life was like, when they were young. Remind them to ask questions using the past simple form of the verb to be (was and were). Brainstorm some questions students might ask and write them on the board. For example: Were you in a band? Were you a good athlete? Were you shy? Was there a park near your house? Have students write their list of questions in class. Instruct students to take notes during their interviews, and write down the responses. Using their notes from the interview, have students write a paragraph about the person they interviewed. Ask volunteers to share their paragraphs the next day in class.
  4. Twenty Questions. Students play Twenty Questions, either as a whole class or in small groups. In this version of Twenty Questions, students must think of a person or event from the past. The rest of the class uses the past simple form of to be to ask the questions. The answers can be yes/no or open ended, but they also must include the past simple form of to be. For example, a student might ask “Was he famous?” or “Where was it?”