Monday, December 17, 2012

Poppin' with Descriptive Writing

I have been wanting to post about descriptive writing in my classroom for awhile now. However, so many things seemed to be happening in my class with the holidays and then the events of the past few days in CT.  It was put on the back burner. But now seems a good time as any to write about it. This year I have done a few mini lessons on descriptive sentences with my second graders. They seem to understand the concept during the lessons, but have difficulty applying the idea during our unit writings. A couple weeks ago, I read my kids the book If You Take A Mouse To the Movies. I wanted to use the book as a spring board into descriptive writing again. I decided to break the idea of descriptive words and writing into a week of mini lessons with my students. On the first day, I brought in a wrapped box which looked like this:
My students asked a TON of questions about it. Who brought it? What is it for? Can we open it? They went on and on. I love seeing their eyes light up in wonder. I told them we would be working all week on descriptive writing and making our sentences more interesting to read. We created a whole class chart with adjectives and descriptive phrases about what the "present" looked like. Then the students completed their response sheet.
The next day we opened our class "present" and saw that there was a box of POPCORN inside! The kids were not sure what to think at first. But when I put the popcorn in the microwave and turned off the lights, they got very quiet. I told them we would be using our five senses to describe our experience with our popcorn. I wanted them to focus on what they could hear and smell while the popcorn was cooking. We created a class chart again and began writing words that came to their minds which described their experience. After, they each got a cup of popcorn. They touched it, looked at it and tasted it. We added more descriptive words to our chart and they choose a few words to write on their response sheet.
Next, I introduced the concept of similes to my students. We made a whole class chart describing what the popcorn felt like in our mouths and compared it to other experiences in their lives.
Then my students wrote their own similes and drew pictures to go with them. To finish out our week of mini lessons, the kids used all our class charts to write descriptive sentences about their popcorn experience. Here is an example from one student:
After they wrote their sentences they each made a popcorn box to go with it and wrote different descriptive words on each kernel to describe their experience. Many of my students wrote their own sentences and I had a few of my students who were struggling with ideas so they used this template.
My students really seemed to embrace these lessons. I think focusing on all five senses and making the experience hands on really hit home with them. The whole class charts were also great visuals and references for the kids during their writing time.If you would like to grab a copy of these week long lessons, just click on the image below and you can grab it from my TpT shop. Each day has a description of the lesson, example pictures and variety of student response sheets to meet your classroom needs.
I hope you and your students will enjoy learning about descriptive writing and how to make sentences more interesting to read with these activities. 

Now more than ever, I realize how blessed I am to be a teacher. To be able to touch the lives of my students and their families and embrace each child for who they are is not something everyone gets to experience. It is our job as educators to protect and nurture each child and treat them as the gift that they are.







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