descriptive writing lesson
The car was red and fast.→The car was apple-red and could easily go 120 miles per hour.
Descriptive writing creates a clear image in the reader’s head. It describes something or someone accurately and in a way that makes it come alive for the reader.
There’s no one way to teach descriptive writing. That said, teachers can:
Mitchell, D. (1996). Writing to learn across the curriculum and the English teacher. English Journal, 85, 93-97.
I put a lot of restrictions on this one including:
A fun descriptive writing activity is to ask students to bring in a picture (or provide them) of a vacation spot.
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When teaching a lesson on descriptive writing, students may write descriptively in the moment, but once the lesson is over, they tend to revert to their former ways. This lesson helps students learn to apply effective writing techniques on their own over time without constant reminders from the teacher.
Some adaptations will have to be made if a particular student has allergies to any of the food and/ or candy used during this activity. If this is the case, the teacher would have to be made aware of these allergies prior to the activity and adjst it accordingly.
1. After having students brainstorm ideas of what descriptive writing may be, offer feedback to the students about what a possible definition could be.
2. Ask students to think of ways in which to make their writing descriptive. Example: word choice, terminology, adjectives, using senses.
3. Explain to students that all of these could work, but there are two main ideas that you are going to foucs on during this lesson: adjectives and the five senses.
4. Ask students to describe what an adjective is. Definition: Describes a noun (object or thing)
5. Have students think of positive and appropriate adjectives to describe four examples written on the board. Design a web from each of these four items to show adjectives relating to object.
6. Once the list of adjectives for all of the items is complete, review with the students what these adjectives mean and how they can help to make writing more descriptive. Provide an example such as “The cat went home” vs. “The yellow, fat cate quickly jumped over the fence to go to his warm house.”
7. Next, move into a discussion on the five senses. Explain to the students how their five senses can aid them during descriptive writing.
8. Ask students if they can think of what the five senses are.
9. Have students think of how much they use touch, taste, vision, hearing, and smelling in their every day lives. These are the things that make things appealing to us, so they greatly help when trying to write a descriptive essay.
10. Link how adjectives that we learned earlier goes along with the five senses. For example, the adjectives help to describe how something looks, tastes, feels, etc.
11. Once the students understand the importance of using the five senses in conjunction with adjectives, explain to them that they are going to now do an activity using their senses. Before being told the activity, students need to be made aware of the rules they must follow (keep eyes closed if doing any sense other than sight, stop all talking and face forward when “give three” signal is displayed by teacher(s), use their cooperative group voices to assure that everyone in the room can hear their own group, quit working and face forward when time is up, ect.)
12. After the rules have been established, describe to the students that they are going to be divided into five cooperative groups. Each group will be assigned a specific sense and given a bag or a box with their sense written on it. The students are to keep their eyes closed while they have the bag or box to assure that they are not using any sense other then their assigned one (except for the sight people, who should not touch, smell, taste, or anything else). Each team member should have the chance to use their sense on the object in the bag or box and contribute to an adjective list that the group comes up with to describe what they discovered through their sense.
13. Break students into five cooperative groups, hand out the bags or box, and have students begin the activity. Warn students that they have three minutes to complete their list and make sure everyone in their group participates.
14. At the end of three minutes, put up the “give three” signal to make sure students have stopped working, quit talking, and face forward.
15. Once you have the students attention, have each group read off their adjective list while writing it on a piece of construction paper at the board so that everyone can see. Complete this until all five groups have represented all five senses.
16. Next, have the students try to think of one sentence for each sense that uses some of the adjectives and best describes the object so that someone might be able to guess what it is
17. After a sentence for each sense has been written, have students combine the sentences to form a paragraph that is written on the board to serve as a visual of what descriptive writing should look like. Remind the students that they don’t even have to reveal what the object is. If they do choose to reveal the object, let them know its more exciting to wait and reveal it at the end of their writing.
18. The last activity will be for students to demonstrate their understanding of this concept, so they will do descriptive writing on their own.
19. Pass out the Adjective Brainstorming worksheet and the Descriptive Writing Template. Explain to the students that they will receive an object soon that they will be writing descriptively about. Explain the worksheets and how they are going to use them.
20. Next, pass out the Hershey’s Kisses to each student (in a regular setting, make sure nobody is allergic to chocolate or whatever food you are using.)
21. Then, students will examine the Hershey’s Kiss with each of the five senses, write down adjectives to go with each sense, and then form their own descriptive paragraph.
22. Once students are complete, a few students will share their paragraph with the entire group.