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Teaching Linking Verbs

Grammar, Literacy, Writing & Language

Written by: Krys Warstillo

When it comes to grammar, verbs are my absolute favorite to teach. There are so many ways to make them multi-sensory and fun. However, I am definitely guilty of spending more time on action verbs than the all too important linking verbs.

fun ways to teach kids about linking verbs and how to use them

What are Linking Verbs?

Here’s a quick rundown in case you need it by Mr. Miles. Trust me, this video is 3:11 well spent.

To recap:

  • Action verbs tell a reader what the subject is doing
  • Linking verbs connect subjects to an adjective or predicate

Examples of Linking Verbs

Examples of linking verbs, that are easy to identify, include:

  • Basic forms of “to be” –  am, is, are, was, were, has been, are being, might be
  • Forms of “to become” – becomes, is becoming, became, will become
  • Forms of “to seem” – seems, seeming, will seem, seemed

Examples of trickier linking verbs are verbs that can be either action or linking. Often, this includes words that are related to the five senses like: feel, look, smell, sound, and taste.

An anchor chart to show students the four different types of linking verbs and an example of the linking verb "is" in a sentence.

Teaching Linking Verbs to Students

First of all, I always introduce action verbs first. They are more concrete and easier for students to understand. While I’m teaching action verbs I introduce the basics of verbs. For the most part, all sentences have one and we go over what a subject and predicate are (if we haven’t previously covered that). 

Once my students have a basic understanding of general verbs and action verbs I begin the linking words lesson by writing a simple sentence like, “Helena is happy” on the board. I ask my students to use what they know and find the verb in the sentence. After giving them time to think and come up with their own ideas we discuss the sentence and I introduce linking verbs. After this initial lesson I like to show this video. It’s quick and I’ve found that for those students that short videos work so well with some of my students. 

Whole Class or Small Group Lesson

After the video it’s time for the whole class (or small group) lesson using the release of responsibility model.

I Do

Begin an anchor chart to complete with your students. Title it Linking Verbs and write down examples of linking verbs and the definition of a linking verb on the top half of the page. Below that write our example sentence, “Helena is happy.” Label each portion of the sentence and remember the importance of metacognition. Talk through your thinking out loud.

linking verbs anchor chart with examples of the four different types of linking verbs often found in 2nd grade texxt

We Do

I project the Linking Verbs digital literacy center on the board. The students help me create sentences using subjects, linking verbs, and predicates. This is such a fun part of the lesson because I let the students get a little silly with their sentences as long as they are grammatically correct. “The little baby is writing a letter” always gets some giggles out of my students. I take sample sentences from this portion of the lesson and add them to the anchor chart. We briefly discuss and label each sentence as we add it to the anchor chart. 

I like using centers as the “we do” portion of a lesson because afterwards it can immediately be added to the centers rotation. Students have had experience with it and can work on it independently. It helps minimize the “what do I do at this center??” chaos. 

A grammar center activity for 2nd grade to practice using a linking verb to connect the subject and predicate to make complete sentences.

Download Centers HERE

You Do

Use the anchor chart you and your students have been working on collaboratively to give them an opportunity to write their own sentences with linking verbs. Before the lesson, cut construction paper into strips or have your students do it on their own. Use two different colors. Give every student two strips of one color and one strip of a second color. Using the examples of linking verbs on the chart, ask students to build their own sentences to attach to the anchor chart. Check out the photo below to see what I mean.

Interactive chart for teaching kids about linking verbs using color-coded sentence strips to connect parts of a sentence together.

Students will put a subject on one piece of paper, a predicate on the other, and the lone strip of a different color will be for their linking verb.

The Grammar Day by Day packet comes in handy for this portion of the lesson as an exit ticket. I print out the week of daily practice (conveniently prints onto one double-sided page) and use this as independent work. Day 1 is perfect because students are simply asked to provide examples of linking verbs which is an easy way to reinforce using anchor charts as reference materials. A skill that needs a lot of reinforcement in 2nd grade. Every day, after a mini lesson my students complete that day’s Grammar Day by Day entry to check for understanding.  

An example of a quick daily grammar practice activity from the Grammar Day by Day resource by Lucky Little Learners to use during morning work, literacy centers, warm ups or homework.

Download HERE

For more practice with identifying verbs in a sentence, check out our Grammar Toothy Freebie – Verbs!

More Resources for Linking Verbs

If you need some more resources for your linking verbs lessons, take a look at some of the links below.

How to Teach Other 2nd Grade Grammar Skills:

Is it time for a new concept in grammar? We have a post for that!

1st Grade Review



Common & Proper Nouns

Types of Sentences



Compound Words

Complete Sentences 


ABC Order

Verb Tenses

Linking Verbs ~ You are here!

Irregular Plural Nouns & Irregular Verbs


Possessive Nouns


Comparative Endings


Antonyms & Synonyms


Subject-Verb Agreement

Collective Nouns


Demonstrative Pronouns


Multiple-Meaning Words

Prepositional Phrases

Shades of Meaning-Verbs & Adjectives

Similes & Metaphors


Ways to make learning about verbs multi-sensory and fun in a 2nd grade classroom.

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