Precise Word Choice (4-6)


Being able to identify and use precise word choice texts and in writing will become stronger readers and writers.  These students will grasp the subtleties of language more effectively and be aware of the nuance that authors create with their word choice. By laying this foundation of awareness, students will become more skillful and selective in their own word choice as they write and communicate.

Precise Word Choice Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Precise Word Choice
  • Hands-on homework activities giving students practice on identifying and using Precise Word Choice
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 4-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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This lesson assists your students in choosing the right descriptive word for their writing. Students who can use and identify precise word choices will grasp the subtleties of language more effectively and be aware of be nuance that authors create with their word choice. By laying this foundation of awareness, students will become more skillful and effective in their own word choices as they write and communicate.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction:   

Sit in the front of the room or gathering area with pieces of paper in a bag and have students reach in and grab one at a time. The pieces of paper should have the following phrases and words on them. The object of the activity will be for students to choose the best word choice to fit the blank in the phrases. While more than one word choice could work, one choice will be much more precise and fitting to the situation. Phrases and words are found in the instructional pages section.

    1. Discuss with students which words make more sense. For example, Pedro could be “upset” that his brand new car was towed away, but it is more likely that he is furious. If a student were writing a story, or reading one, using the wrong word choice could really change the emotion or tone of the story. It could change the way a character is perceived. That is why PRECISE word choice is crucial for accurate comprehension when reading and for creating strong writing pieces.
    2. Create an anchor chart that looks like the one below. It will have the definition, purpose, and a “vague sentence” and then a “precise sentence”. The precise sentence provided is an example, please also have students create some strong, precise sentences.
    Precise Word Choice

    Definition: Precise word choice is when writers carefully choose the strongest words that most accurately convey the desired meaning and capture descriptions .

    Purpose: Using precise words gives written pieces strength and accuracy in describing setting, characters, and emotions. Writers need to use precise word choice so that readers can fully comprehend and understand the story and the characters.

    “Vague” Sentence:

    A boy went downstairs.

    Precise sentence:

    Marcus raced quickly to the kitchen.

    How to choose precise words: Think of words that will add description and paint the clearest picture possible for your readers. Include sensory details, specific names and places, and include adverbs and adjectives when needed.



    1. Assign activity page one, where students transform weak sentences into strong ones. Have students meet in small groups to brainstorm strong sentences and complete the new sentences with precise word choice. Walk around to meet with each group and make sure that all students are having success. If there are any groups or individuals who are struggling, pull them into a small group to work with you.
    2. Practice page should be assigned to be completed individually. Students will read a passage that has vague word choice, with multiple words in bold that need to be transformed by choosing more precise words. Collect student work afterward to make sure students are showing mastery or progress.
    3. Assign homework. Students will choose a topic to write about and must create two paragraphs. The one uses vague word choice, and the second one should be a rewriting of the paragraph using strong, precise word choice.
    4. The next day when students turn in homework assignment, have students share their two versions, weak word choice and precise word choice, with a partner. After both versions have been read, partners should discuss how adding precise word choice added information to the story.
    5. Complete a review activity where students volunteer scenarios and then call on another student to transform it with precise word choice. Encourage them to include adjectives, adverbs, details, and build on emotions and descriptions to make a sentence seem more real to listeners. For example, student A will say, “I went to a party last week”. Student B can add precise word choice by saying, “ I happily attended my best friend’s birthday party on Saturday night.” This tells us so much more!
    6. Assign quiz for students to complete independently after the review.

Common Core State Standards: 


Class Sessions (45 minutes): 3 class sessions

Additional Resources:  

Want more language arts resources? Check out our other Language Arts Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Language Arts