Think of the last book you read. Could you imagine what it might feel like to be in the story? Could you picture the setting, or the attributes of the character? Could you visualize yourself doing what the author is describing or teaching you about? If so, the author was using descriptive language to help you create a picture in your mind.
The ability to use descriptive language well is one skill that sets amazing writers apart from average writers. Too little description and the reader is lost, too much description and the reader is annoyed.
Here are five fun and fast ways to help kids fine tune their descriptive writing skills. Try one tomorrow!
- Pick a color in the room and describe it using all five of your senses. What would it smell like? What would it feel like? What would it taste and sound like? How can you describe the color? Is it pale or bright blue? Does it remind you of something?
- Give five clues to describe a person you know or an object in the room. Start with very general descriptions and get more specific at the end. Take turns guessing. Talk about how the descriptive clues made it easier to guess correctly.
- Listen to a favorite piece of music together. Brainstorm words to describe it. (See if you can use all five senses!) Try to think of as many descriptive words and phrases as possible in two minutes.
- Think of a word like love, peace or friendship. Draw symbols to represent it or act out examples of the word. Next, explain what you drew or acted. Talk about how each person could probably think of different examples and representations, because the word has a slightly different meaning for each person. Communicating descriptively helps other people really understand your perspective and see what makes you unique.
- Go on a word hunt. Look for the most interesting descriptive words. Chat about what makes each word appealing. Chances are likely that you’ll pick words like exclaimed, rejoiced or blurted, rather than a boring old word like said.
After practicing a bit, encourage kids to up their game the next time they write. Challenge young writers to describe events in their stories using different senses, replace boring words with a snappier ones, and really think about what they can do to help their reader create a clear mental picture of what the author is saying.