Beacon Lesson Plan Library

What Did You Say?

Linda Kitner
Bay District Schools


The students will become aware of the relationship between verbal and nonverbal communication through role play of specific situations. These situations include personal experience, excerpts from novels, and pictures from magazines.


The student understands the relationship between verbal and nonverbal communication (eg., body language).


-Written experiences from students' journals which describe communication
-Passages taken from novels which describe verbal and nonverbal communication
-Pictures from magazines that display specific nonverbal communication, for example, surprise, sadness, anger, happiness, etc.


1. Collect or have students collect passages in reading that describe or depict two characters interacting with each other. Use books that the children are reading at the time.

2. Collect magazine pictures which portray verbal and nonverbal communication.

3. Be aware of any problems within your classroom community which may need to be addressed in reference to miscommunication.


Explain to students, -Communication is vital to our existence. Humans and animals communicate in many different ways. Wolves howl and bark and whine to get their message across, but, did you know that every lift of the tail or point of the ear means something to the other wolves in the pack? Communication means talking and listening to each other. Humans have an oral language. We can talk to each other. We also have a language with no words. We call it body language. We are going to learn about some of the types of verbal (talk) and nonverbal (body language) that we see and hear every day.-
Day 1
1. Brainstorm words that describe verbal and nonverbal communication. Put these words on chart paper that will be referred to when needed.

2. Discuss these feelings and clarify the meanings of the words used to describe them. Be sure to take the time to discuss personal experiences with understanding or misunderstanding body language as nonverbal communication.

3. Put students in groups of two and give each pair a passage from literature. Have them read the passage and be prepared to act it out. For example, Tom Sawyer used totally different body language when he was talking to Huck Finn as opposed to his Aunt.

4. The audience will describe the message that is communicated using the brainstormed words.

5. Have the students do a five minute quickwrite about personal experiences, for example, -When you come in from school and your Mom has a smile on her face, do you know what it means? If she has a frown on her face and her hands are on her hip, what could it mean?-

Day 2
1. Students will share their quickwrites from the day before. They may also want to share any verbal or nonverbal communications they have noticed with their families or other people in the real world.

2. Pass out pictures and ask students to discuss the message the body language presents.

3. Have each student share the picture and their response. Discuss the relationship between the verbal and nonverbal communication.

4. Finally have each student write dialogue which will verbalize the body language shown in the picture.

5. Write this dialogue in speech bubbles and display with the pictures.


The goal of these activities is for students to become aware of different types of verbal and nonverbal communication. This is a social skill which can only be mastered through practice and reflection. The formative assessments that follow will help guide the teacher in planning future lessons and teaching strategies for reacting to verbal and nonverbal interactions appropriately. Students should:
-Write dialogue in the speech bubbles for the magazine pictures to provide evidence of understanding
-Keep a double entry journal to record on the left side observations of real-life experiences with verbal and nonverbal communication. Reflection of these
experiences should go on the right side of the journal.

See attached file for a rubric for formative assessment of these activities.


This activity can be used for K-2 learners very easily. ESE students can benefit from this lesson. Drawings can be used in place of written pieces.
Extension of the learning should be achieved by continuing the use of the reflective journal throughout the school year. The journal can be considered an ongoing needs assessment for planning future lessons which will address social skills as the students need them.
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