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

In the BrainPOP ELL movie, Looking for Lucky (L2U4L2), Nikki’s cat Lucky has disappeared! After searching everywhere–from the animal shelter to the fire station–the friends are stumped. In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades K-8, students use the past progressive to describe parallel actions.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Use the past progressive to describe parallel actions they observe.
  2. Identify and match parallel actions that happen in the movie, and summarize the events.
  3. Look for specific information in the movie and take notes on a chart.
  4. Describe images using the past progressive.


while, as, when
past progressive, parallel, action, parallel actions


For Activity 2, Parallel Actions, print and cut out the Parallel Actions Sentence Strips.
For Activity 4, create situation flash cards with these suggested prompts:
sleeping / cooking; leaving / feeding the cat; shouting / laughing; buying food at the supermarket / riding your bike; practicing / playing the piano; running with a pet / looking everywhere for my pet; cleaning / listening to music.
For Activity 4, print enough copies of Characters in Action: Progressive Tense for each small group of students.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. What Was Happening? Have students brainstorm a list of activities they will do that afternoon or evening, such as help make dinner, do homework, watch television, babysit. Then for homework, have the students choose one. Instruct them to observe other activities that happen at the same time, and take notes. The next day in class, students report on what they observed, using the past progressive and time expressions, such as while and as. For example: While I was watching TV, my sister was talking on the phone. To review their answers, you may want to group the students by similar activities. For example, if several students were watching tv, then have them all report their observations before moving on to another group.
  2. Parallel Actions. Print and cut out the Parallel Actions Sentence Strips and distribute a set to each pair of students. After watching the movie Looking for Lucky (L2U4L2), have them match the sentences according to the parallel activities – the activities that happened at the same time. To differentiate, ask students to take their own notes of the parallel activities on a T-Chart. They may have to watch the movie multiple times to accomplish the task. Then ask students to summarize what happened in the movie, relating the parallel actions in complete sentences, using the past progressive and the conjunctions while or as.
  3. Where Were They? On a repeat viewing of the movie, have the students take notes about all the different places the characters search for Lucky. After the movie, ask pairs of students to write each location on an index card, and place the pile of cards face down. Then, taking turns, the students turn over a card and relate the two actions that took place there, using the past progressive and the conjunctions while or as. They can use the sentences from the previous activity for help. The locations are: Nikki's room, the kitchen, the living room, the animal shelter, the supermarket, the police station, the fire station, the animal hospital, the library, the bus station, and the park.
  4. Characters in Action. Distribute the Characters in Action images to each small group. Have students cut out the images, shuffle them, and lay them out face down on a table. Each student in the group takes a turn turning over two images. If they get the same character, then they select another until they have a second character. Using the past progressive and the conjunctions while or as, the students describe the parallel actions that the characters were doing. They must use complete sentences, beginning with a time expression. For example, Yesterday afternoon, Ben was baking cookies while Moby was sleeping. After a few turns, encourage students to use different past time expressions, and to begin the sentences with while or as.
  5. What Were You Doing When…? Ask students to recount an important moment from their lives, and describe what they were doing when it happened and what happened afterward. Model by sharing a memory of yours, including what you were doing at the time and what happened afterward. Students follow your example with anecdotes they remember, relating what they were doing at the time something important in their lives happened. If students need help, you can provide prompts. Here are some examples:
    What were you doing when:
    your sibling was born?
    something happened to your pet?
    you lost/broke something you still miss?
    an important national or international event took place?