Content aims: Finding verbs in a sentence 4th grade

Parts of speech in Finnish

The pupils find it difficult to find the verb in a sentence. They are thinking that doing something is always a verb. They can’t see that verb+ing can also be a noun.

Thinking aim: trying to start making a model which would help to find a verb in a sentence

1. lesson

Step one

How can I find the verb in a sentence? We have been talking about verbs before but the pupils' understanding and knowledge didn’t carry them far enough. They didn’t understand the function of the verbs in the sentence but just kept saying that the verbs are all about doing something. The problem was made visible by looking at three words

a snowboard, snowboarding and to snowboard (in Finnish lumilauta, lumilautailu, lumilautailla). I asked them to come and write a sentence of each word on the board.

A snowboard is flexible.

Snowboarding is fun.

I can snowboard quite well.

They thought that snowboarding is always a verb because it is talking about doing something. What kind of information do they know about verbs which could help them with this problem? What is a tool we could use? They found out that the verb has got a doer (tekijä). We had been talking about this during the previous lesson but had not connected it into using as a tool for finding verbs. This time I used the word tool a lot.

2. and 3. lesson

Now I decided that the pupils could try to make a little model for themselves about verbs so that they could find them easier.

Step 2

I wrote down 15 sentences from a Moomin book (Taikatalvi). My idea was to ask them to find the verbs and try to see similarities between them to help them to build a model. The task was quite difficult, probably too many sentences as well. They had to sort the sentences into two groups. Some pupils found two ways of sorting, some only one. It is very important to work with sentences because using just “verb lists” doesn’t help the pupils to solve their problem. The groups they found were




doer-no doer (passive form which they remember from a previous lesson)

Somebody realized that one can give orders by using verbs!

We went through the sentences looking at the verbs they had found. We didn't have the models yet but felt like we needed to look at the sentences together. The pupils had looked at their findings also in pairs before this.

Then I asked them to write out a model about verbs, which would help them to find a verb in a sentence. Everybody wrote something. Some of them wrote about four things.

Somebody wrote that names of a sport are not verbs.


The pupils also studied very hard the sentence

The sea was asleep under the ice, and in the soil between the roots snoring little creatures dreamt about spring.

The pupils suggested that snoring was a verb because it was about doing something. They decided that it wasn’t a verb because the creatures should have been in front of that word to make it a verb.

Even if my idea was probably too ambitious, the pupils did discuss a lot. I tried not to give answers but kept asking more questions. We tried out some of the things they had written in the model. The end result was quite modest models. I still have got one more lesson this week so that the pupils can work on their models.


Reflection after the lesson

In the beginning of the lesson some boys were not interested about having Finnish again. Towards the end they were very keen due to the fact that me as a teacher didn’t teach them but they had to figure things out by themselves. Even the normally less active ones were interested solving problems and giving their opinion about certain verbs. I asked them to work partly individually, partly in pairs (explaining their verb findings in the text) and every now and then asking about their results in sorting or making a model.

Our experiences in Daugavpils about organizing both individual work and discussions together during the lesson encouraged me to start introducing more individual work in my class.

It is challenging for a teacher not to start teaching even if the situation is a mixture of many questions without answers, uncertainty and confusion. Most of the pupils love challenges and the others need a little encouragement about something they do to get them started and make them believe in their own skills in learning even if things can be difficult in the beginning.


I used two lessons for this in one day. I was just wondering about copyrights. I used text from a book. Can I publish the sentences on our site?

I was glad that one of my new trainees saw three of these lessons. Hopefully she got an idea about using the framework.


# Irina Buchinska 2012-03-13 23:08
Kirsi, I would agree that 15 sentences might be too many and especially if they are about different parameters as I understand - time, doer, number, impeative. Though with a native language it may be ok.

By the way what do you mean by yes-no?

What models did you come up with?

What mistakes do they usually make when using verbs in Finnish? I think that the model should help them solve the problems with mistakes.

How do you feel about giving them an opportunity to work individually? Was it too challenging for them? For you? :)
# Kirsi Urmson 2012-03-21 19:25
Thank you Irina for your commets! Yes-no meant negative sentences and the ones that are not negative. The models were quite simple. Some pupils only had two statements about verbs for example it can be past tense or there is a doer. Some put the possibility of passive form.
The mistakes often come from mixing up spoken language and written language. They don't pay attention to the fact that the verb has got an ending which will tell us the doer. I think individual work went beter than I thought.
I made them a test after these verb lessons on parts of speach and to my great surprise they could find the verbs really well, even the weaker learners. So I can say that giving more time for challenging tasks and setting a problem helped them a lot, even if I as a teacher didn't even deal with them all issues about verbs. I thought that was very incouraging. The pupils have saved their model and the sentences as well. We'll keep them in the classroom for next year.
# Jaakko Kuusinen 2014-12-16 20:54
Hi Kirsi!

I think your idea is good and it seems to work too.
I was just wondering if the pupils would have come out with even near the same result if you would have only said that there is a way to find the verbs and you have to figure out the solution yourselves? I mean that there would not be any mension about any model or so.
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