Lesson 2: The Scorpion


Activity 1: Phrases and Parts of Speech

Materials: Handy Guide to Writing by Moving Beyond the Page, colored pencils, laminated "Parts of Speech Cards" page
In this unit, you'll review the basic parts of speech and learn about different types of phrases and how they function in a sentence. Refer to the "Parts of Speech" page if you need to review the definitions, types, symbols for, or examples of the nine basic parts of speech.

A phrase is a group of two or more words that is missing a subject, verb, or both. Two common grammatical phrases are noun and verb phrases:
  • A noun phrase contains the noun and all the words (such as articles, adjectives, and prepositional phrases) that modify it. A thin, timid dog came close.
  • A verb phrase is a verb and all of its helping verbs. Do not include adverbs or other modifiers in the verb phrase. Kino could never remember seeing them closed. (Never is an adverb.)
In The Pearl, Steinbeck uses strong combinations of clear, powerful verbs and a variety of adjectives and adverbs to color his sentences. Use the sentences from The Pearl found on the "Labeling Parts of Speech" (Option 1 or 2) sheet to practice labeling noun and verb phrases and some basic parts of speech. Ask your parent which option to complete.

NOTE: For more information about parts of speech and phrases, refer to the Handy Guide to Writing.
Student Activity Page
In this lesson, your child will label noun and verb phrases and identify some basic parts of speech. Your child can use the laminated parts of speech cards or draw the symbols herself using colored pencils. You may want to suggest that she try both labeling methods to see which one she prefers. A parts of speech review sheet is provided if your child needs to brush up on any of the parts of the speech during this unit. There are two options for this activity. The sentences for Option 1 are shorter, and the labeling tasks are divided into more manageable chunks than Option 2.

Option 1

Follow the instructions on the "Labeling Parts of Speech" (Option 1) page.
If your child seems to be struggling with labeling the parts of speech, suggest that she break it down into more manageable steps. For example, she could first find all of the nouns, next locate the verbs, and then label the adjectives and adverbs.

Answer Key:
Part I (nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases should be underlined in black and verbs and verb phrases underlined in red)
1. She [pronoun] combed [verb] her black hair [noun phrase] and braided [verb] it [pronoun].
2. A baby [noun phrase] could easily die ["could die" is a verb phrase] from the poison [noun phrase].
3. They [pronoun] could hear [verb phrase] the splashing water [noun phrase] and the singing of caged birds [noun phrase]. (It's fine if your child labeled the last two noun phrases as one big noun phrase.)

Part II
1. Juana [noun] sang [verb] softly [adverb] an ancient [adjective] song [noun].
2. But the stinging [adjective] pain [noun] of the bite [noun] was going [verb or verb phrase] away [adverb].
3. Kino [noun] could see [verb or verb phrase] the green [adjective] coolness [noun] of the garden [noun] and little [adjective] splashing [adjective] fountain [noun].

Option 2

Follow the instructions on the "Labeling Parts of Speech" (Option 2) page.
Answer Key:
Check your child's underlining of noun and verb phrases and labeling of the following words noted below:
  1. A [art] thin [adj], timid [adj] dog [noun] came [verb] close [adv] and laid [verb] its [adj] chin [noun] delicately [adv] on the pile [noun].
  2. That [pronoun] was [verb] the [art] only [adj] breakfast [noun] he [pronoun] had ever [adv] known. ("had known" is the verb phrase)
  3. Kino's [adj] hand [noun] went [verb] forward [adv] very [adv] slowly [adv], very [adv] smoothly [adv].
  4. The [art] glaring [adj] sun [noun] threw [verb] the [art] bunched [adj] shadows [noun] of the [art] people [noun] blackly [adv] on the [art] white [adj] wall [noun].