Read or write verbs and their vowel endings in a format that’s packed with a punch!

AN ACTIVITY (Nobody loses– or everyone wins.)

The key here is captivating pictures that portray the hustle and bustle of many characters in minute detail.  (Please see the suggested sources at the bottom of the page.)  For my first graders, I write simple sentences on post-its, and alone or in pairs, they search through the illustration’s details to find a character that is engaged in each action. The rule is that only one action can be assigned to a character and both partners (if 2 are working together) have to concur. Sometimes, a post-it has to be reassigned in the course of the activity so that one character doesn’t end up with multiple post-its. (For example, He is sitting down and He is reading a book cannot be assigned to the same character, so further searching is required.) This is an engaging way to have beginning readers work with familiar base words with an -ing ending.

With my third graders, the same pictures are used for spelling practice. Individuals or pairs pick a picture and then write action clues for someone else to find. They practice applying the rules of doubling a consonant or dropping the e before a vowel ending in a meaningful, interactive endeavor. This is a fun way to supplement the skill and drill work of applying these higher level spelling rules.


A GAME (There will be one winner.)

This adaptation takes the beginning reading activity described above and reconstitutes it to include some competition. It’s based loosely on a game called I Spy that I got from the UNICEF store decades ago. 2 beginning readers (or one plus a grown-up) face off with different pictures, each of which has been divided into six sections. A deck of cards on which you’ve written simple sentences that describe the actions of characters in both pictures goes face down on the table between the players. The players take turns picking cards and scouring their pictures to see if they have someone doing that action. If a “match” is found, that segment of the picture that includes that character is covered. If there isn’t a “match,”  the second player gets to try to place the description on their picture. In this version, once a card has been placed on the picture, it cannot be moved. In other words, reassigning cards is prohibited. The first player to have all six sections of their picture covered is the winner.


  • Around the World with Mouk – Marc Boutavant (shown above)
  • Beach Ball – Peter Sis
  • Horton Hears a Who – Dr. Seuss
  • Ladybug magazine
  • The Paper Princess – Elisa Kleven
  • Peter Spier’s Circus
  • Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever
  • You Can’t Take A Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum– Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman