Classroom Resources

Animal Adjectives

You may have herd of a serpentine river that meanders like a snake but there are many other adjectives based on animals. Student will expand their vocabularies by applying strategies to identify words then use them in sentences.

1. Brainstorming Similes

As the class which animal they would use to describe various characteristics of nouns – size, movement, intellect, character, etc. They might typically come up with phrases like ‘small as a bug,’ ‘wise as an owl’ or ‘fast as a cheetah.’ Your students will likely generate an extensive list. Record these for use in the following activities.

2. Exploring Descriptions Using Animals

After generating a list of similes, challenge the class to use the animal name as a descriptor. For example, rather than saying ‘as loyal as a dog’ use ‘dog-like loyalty.’ Instead of ‘stealthy as a cat’ use ‘cat-like stealth.’ Ask the students to compare the first phrases to the second – which do they think sounds better? Which would fit best into a story?

3. Animal Adjectives

Next, explain that while these compound words are valid, it might add more interest to their story to use a different form of the animal names as adjectives. These draw on the common, scientific and foreign language forms of animals names. Note that many adjectives for animals end in ‘ine‘, meaning ‘related to‘ or ‘referring to’.

The animal name may not be immediately obvious, but with a bit of guesswork, research and luck they should be able to find out.

These two worksheets can be used for either independent or group work. The students first guess the animal referred to by the adjective, then confirm their guess. Finally, they use the word in a sentence.

ENRICHMENT: Ask students to compare their final sentences to their first efforts at comparing things to animals? Which sounds more interesting? Challenge them to find more such words, and to sue them in future writting.


Worksheet 1

  1. feline/cat
  2. leonine/lion
  3. piscine/fish
  4. lupine/wolf
  5. porcine/pig
  6. asinine/donkey, ass
  7. ursine/bear
  8. caballine/horse

Worksheet 2

  1. vituline/calf, veal
  2. corvine/crow
  3. lumbricine/earthworm
  4. procyonine/raccoon
  5. leporine/rabbit
  6. phocine/seal
  7. sciurine/squirrel
  8. murine/mouse or rat

Curriculum Connections

Grade 7, 8 & 9
  • 3.1 Plan and Focus
    • decide on and select the information needed to support a point of view.
  • 3.2 Select and Process
    • locate information to answer research questions using a variety of sources.
  • 3.3 Organize, Record and Evaluate
    • make notes on a topic, combining information from more than one source
  • 4.3 Present and Share
    • demonstrate control of voice, pacing, gestures and facial expressions; arrange props and presentation space to enhance communication
    • respond to the emotional aspects of presentations by providing nonverbal encouragement and appreciative comments

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