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

In the BrainPOP ELL movie, People Can’t Fly (L2U2L3), Ben wants to fly like the birds. As he discovers how unlikely that is, Ben and Moby discuss Leonardo da Vinci’s ideas and the Wright brothers’ experiments with flight. In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades K-8, students use the modal can to answer questions, describe characters, and participate in a shared writing activity.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Answer movie-dependent questions, with evidence from the movie to support their answers.
  2. Use the modal can to describe activities in the past, present, and future.
  3. Collaborate in a Shared Writing activity, using sentences with the modal can.


Lesson Procedure:

  1. Close-Viewing Questions. As with text-dependent questions for close reading, the following are movie-dependent questions. Students will watch the movie People Can't Fly (L2U2L3) multiple times to find the answers and evidence to support their answers. 1. Explain the importance of birds in this movie. 2. How do you know that it was difficult for the Wright Brothers to learn how to fly? 3. Why did Ben climb the tree? 4. What does Moby suggest instead? Do you have another suggestion?
  2. What We Can and Can’t Do. After watching the movie People Can't Fly (L2U2L3), point out to students that there are many things people couldn’t do in the past that they can do today, like flying or landing on the moon. Further, explain that there are things we can’t do today that maybe we will be able to do in the future, like live in space. Working in pairs, invite students to consider different human activities that were not possible long ago, but are today, and things we can’t do today that we may be able to do in the future. Have each pair decide on one past activity and one future activity, and describe them in pictures and writing, using the modals could/couldn’t, can/can’t, and will/won’t be able to. Have pairs share with the class.
  3. Shared Writing. Do a Shared Writing activity with the class. Make up a story together about superheroes, using the modals can, could, and be able to. As the students dictate their ideas, write them on the board, interactive white board, or chart paper, to create the shared story. When the story is complete, use it as a reading activity.


The Little Engine that Could. Read this wonderful and classic children's book to the class. It's full of examples with can and could, and features the repetitive language pattern, I think I can, I think I can.

Billy Boy. This is a traditional folk song. You can find many examples of the song and the lyrics online. You may want to have the students make up their own verse using the following verse as a model, and replace the underlined lines with their own:

Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Can she bake a cherry pie, charming Billy?
She can bake a cherry pie quick as a cat can wink its eye.
She's a young thing and cannot leave her mother.


BrainPOP ELL Movies
Old Dog, New Tricks