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

In the BrainPOP ELL movie, Strange Weather (L2U4L1), something very strange is going on with the weather. One moment it’s warm and sunny, and the next there’s a blizzard. In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades K-8, students use listening and picture prompts to describe events in the past progressive, use the past progressive with an interrupted action, and find the correct sequence of a storyboard.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Describe an image using the past progressive.
  2. Identify the difference between the past simple and the past progressive.
  3. Ask and answer questions in the past progressive using listening prompts.
  4. Match sentence parts in a storyboard and put the sentences in order.


Print a copy of the Suddenly It Started Storyboard for each pair of students.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. What was Happening in the Park? Tell the class that you went to the park at 11 o'clock yesterday morning, and there were a lot of people there doing different activities. Project the At the Park Action Image, and ask the class to describe what was happening in the park when you arrived. They should answer using the past progressive. For example: Ben was working on the computer. A baby was crying. A boy was swimming.
  2. Sequence or Interruption? Elicit the difference between the following sentences:
    a. I put on my shoes and then it started to rain.
    b. While I was putting on my shoes, it started to rain.

    Point out that the time expressions while, as, and when are often used with the past progressive. Ask students to finish the sentences you start.
    Suggested prompts:
    a. When I went out, the wind was…
    b. The phone suddenly rang while I was…
    c. It started to rain while we were...
    d. Something strange happened while we were…
    e. My mom came home as I was…
  3. Ask and Answer. For this activity, use the first seven sentences of the Hear It, Say It feature. Working in pairs, have students listen to the prompts and then ask and answer questions. For example:
    Question: What happened while he was getting ready? Answer: It suddenly started to rain.
    To differentiate, have students write the sentences, as in a dictation. When they have finished, ask them:
    Which sentence in the past doesn’t have an interrupted action? (#6) Add an interrupted action to that sentence.
    Which sentence in the past is different from the others and how?(#2 is inverted, and doesn't need a comma.)
  4. Storyboard. Distribute copies of the Suddenly It Started Storyboard to each pair of students. Instruct them to cut out the six images, with the captions attached, and lay them out on the desk in random order. There are three pairs of cards that make up three sentences from the movie. There are several variations to differentiate this activity:
    1) Students can watch the movie to find the sentences and the correct order, and retell the story. They will have to watch very closely to recognize the images and captions.
    2) They can guess the sentence matches and the order, and watch the movie to confirm their answers, and retell the story.
    3) You can separate the captions for the students to match them to the pictures.
    4) Have the students write their own captions.
    5) Students can make up their own stories, draw the storyboards, and write captions using the past progressive and past simple.