Narrative Writing Lesson: Using the exact words


In this lesson, students will recognise exact verbs in literature and then use more exact verbs when writing a narrative. This lesson is based around the novel ‘Mortimer Mooner Makes Lunch’ but could be adapted to other novels.

Australian Curriculum Links:

  • Year 3 – Discuss how language is used to describe the settings in texts, and explore how the settings shape the events and influence the mood of the narrative(ACELT1599)
  • Year 3 -Understand that verbs represent different processes (doing, thinking, saying, and relating) and that these processes are anchored in time through tense(ACELA1482)
  • Year 3 – Learn extended and technical vocabulary and ways of expressing opinion including modal verbs and adverbs (ACELA1484)
  • Year 3 – Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts demonstrating increasing control over text structures and language features and selecting print,and multimodal elements appropriate to the audience and purpose(ACELY1682)



Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • recognize more exact verbs in literature.
  • use more precise verbs in their writing.
  • write a narrative paper using a personal experience.

Teacher planning


2 days



The students should have an understanding of the narrative writing process, as well as an understanding of the differences between imaginative and personal writing prompts.




  1. Discuss the importance of using exact words in narrative writing.
  2. Inform the students that you are going to read to them a short book that uses specific words for the verbs “went,” “said,” and “put.”
  3. Read the story Mortimer Mooner Makes Lunch by Frank B. Edwards.
  4. List on the board (chart paper, poster board) the words “went,” “said,” and “put.”
  5. Instruct students that you are going to read the story again, and after each page you are going to stop and pull exact words from the story that fit one of the three categories of words.
  6. Discuss the variation in meaning of each of the precise verbs to the more common headings.

Guided Practice

  1. Put a sample personal narrative on the overhead. Have students identify 5 vague verbs in the draft that could be more precise. Underline the 5 verbs. Using the list of precise verbs pulled from the story, substitute more precise verbs in the draft. Model using editing marks from editing chart (e.g., carets) to insert new words and delete old words.
  2. Give small groups of students copies of another sample narrative. Have each group underline 5 vague verbs and replace with a more precise verb. Have groups share their new versions.


Independent practice

Writing assignment: Follow the usual routine of writing a personal narrative in your class.

Sample Prompt: Think about a time you were late getting somewhere. It might be to school, class, church, or somewhere else. Write a first draft telling about that time.

Instruct students to underline five verbs in their rough draft. Display the list of words you created during Day 1 of the lesson. Instruct the students to revise their drafts by inserting these more exact verbs in their story (using appropriate editing marks). Share the revised draft with a partner.


Collect samples of writing to assess and moderate with other teachers.

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