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

In the BrainPOP ELL movie, Happy Birthday (L1U5L5), Ben and Moby want to surprise Nikki on her birthday, but Nikki surprises them, instead. While Ben and Moby realize their mistake, students review possessives, tag questions and the past simple of the verb to be. In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades K-8, students write descriptions using was/were, and match sentence strips using tag questions.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Describe images and events using the past tense of to be (was/were).
  2. Match and sequence sentence strips using tag questions.
  3. Predict events in the movie, and discuss the actual outcome.


Make enough copies of the It's Her Birthday Sentence Strips for each pair of students. Cut out each set, or have the students do it.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. What was there? Project the image of A Birthday Cake, instructing the class to look at it and remember the details. Leave it up for just a minute and then take it away. Ask the class what was there, using was and were in their answers. For example: There was a birthday cake. There were fourteen green candles. There was pink icing.

    Next, show the image of the Rooms in the House and do the same thing. Leave the image up a little longer this time. Tell the class to make a list of the things that they see. If they don't know the words, they may write them in their languages. Then take the image away. Give students time to look up any unknown words in English. When they have finished, ask them what was there. With help from their lists, the students answer in complete sentences using was and were. For example: There were some books in the bedroom. There was a picture of Moby in the kitchen.
  2. Something Different. Start the movie Happy Birthday (L1U5L5) and pause it after the third line, when Ben says, "Let's do something different." Ask students to discuss and share their thoughts about what Ben's and Moby's ideas might be. After watching the movie, ask the class what Ben's and Moby's mistake was.
  3. It's Her Birthday Sentence Strips. In pairs, have students match the tag questions to the sentences. For an added challenge, have students arrange the sentences in the order they happened in the movie. They can watch the movie again, to check their answers.