Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In the BrainPOP ELL movie Circulatory System (L3U4L1), Ben and Moby are biking up a big hill. Moby is exhausted as he tries to keep up with Ben. When Moby wonders why they had to work so hard, Ben reminds him of the benefits of exercise, describing the circulatory system, and how the heart works. In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 3-8, students define and describe parts of the heart as they practice using verbs followed by gerunds and gerunds as the subject of sentences.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Complete prompts using verbs followed by gerunds. (Language Objective)
  2. Complete a chart with gerunds as they watch the movie. (Language Objective)
  3. Describe and summarize scenes from the movie using gerunds. (Language and Content Objective)
  4. Write captions for images, using gerunds as subjects. (Language and Content Objective)


Gerund, subject, noun
Verbs that take gerunds: keep, try, stop, like, dislike, recommend, enjoy, continue, can't help, finish, practice
Content vocabulary: exercise, heart, lung, artery, vein, beat, pulse, oxygen, air, breathe


For Activity 2, Gerund Roundtable, create a set of prompts for each small group. Sample prompts:
_________________ is fun.
_________________ is easy.
_________________ can be difficult.
_________________ is important.
_________________ takes time.
_________________ is boring.

For Activity 4, Capture the Moment in a Caption, make copies of the Gerunds as Subjects Worksheets.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. What I Enjoy Doing. Write a prompt on the board, such as: What do you enjoy doing? Beneath the question, write the following categories, in three columns: after school, on the weekends, on vacation. Encourage students to brainstorm activities for each category. Students must describe the activity using gerunds (e.g., for the “on the weekends” category, they might say I enjoy sleeping late or for the “after school” category, I enjoy playing soccer). Students then work with a partner to ask and answer questions about what they enjoy doing.
  2. Gerund Roundtable. Do a Roundtable activity in small groups to practice using gerunds as subjects. Distribute a set of prompts to each group (see Preparation), with one prompt written on the top of a page. Each student completes a prompt with a gerund as the subject of the sentence and passes it on to another student in the group, and so on, until they can’t think of any more options.
  3. Breathless! Before watching the movie Circulatory System (L3U4L1), enter the classroom out of breath. Explain that you were late, so you had to run. Put your hand on your heart, feel your pulse. Think out loud, “I wonder why my heart is beating like this?” Discuss with the class. Use gerunds in your explanation and encourage students to use gerunds when they share their ideas.
  4. Capture the Moment in a Caption. In a repeat viewing of Circulatory System (L3U4L1), pause the movie at various points, with closed captions turned off, for students to describe the scene using gerunds as subject. After the movie, project the Gerunds as Subjects Worksheet and distribute to pairs of students. Ask partners to write a caption for each image, using a gerund as subject. For example: Biking uphill is difficult. Have pairs share their captions with the class.
  5. I Spy a Gerund. Before a repeat viewing of Circulatory System (L3U4L1), have the students brainstorm from memory verbs from the movie that take the gerund form. These verbs will become column headings. Students fill in the gerunds they hear in the appropriate column as they watch the movie. Caution students not to confuse the present progressive with gerunds. To differentiate, some students may write down all of the verbs, without using the prepared column headings. Students may work alone or in pairs.

    Verbs from the movie that take the gerund (column headings for the chart) include: keep, try, stop, don't like, recommend, enjoy, continue, can't help, finish.

    You can also pause the movie at various points, with closed captions off, for students to describe the scene using gerunds as subject.


  • Create a Word Wall for words about the heart and how it works. Students can add to it throughout the unit as they encounter more words.
  • Students draw and label the parts of the heart using resources including the BrainPOP Heart movie.
  • Students create a poster or model illustrating and explaining how the heart works, using resources including the BrainPOP Circulatory System movie.


BrainPOP ELL Movies
Thanks for Nothing!

BrainPOP Movies
Circulatory System

BrainPOP JR Movies

Guts and Bolts