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Descriptive Writing Practice Guide

Teacher’s Guide: Help Students Take Their Creativity to the Next Level with Descriptive Writing Practice

It’s never too early for kids to start learning about creative writing—but there is generally a learning curve before their works are distinguishable from one student to the next.

Descriptive Writing Activites and Prompts

When you’re teaching young students, you may become accustomed to reading some of the same basic pieces over and over again.  However, you can disrupt the pattern and help your students better express their individuality by introducing descriptive writing to their repertoires.

Descriptive writing is all about capturing detail—and its goal is to be so vivid and specific that the reader can’t help but conjure up an image in his or her mind.  The writing hums to life with copious adjectives and adverbs and metaphors and, ultimately, tends to evoke a much more emotional response from the reader. 

If you’re looking for a way to spice up your students’ writing and take them from bland to “BAM!”, look no further than descriptive writing practice.

In this special guide, we’ll explore a few key benefits of descriptive writing and a few activities to help you guide students through the process.  Once they’ve completed those exercises, we’ve also put together a list of 10 fresh descriptive writing journal prompts to use in your classroom.

With that in mind, let’s dig in!

Three Key Benefits of Descriptive Writing

Descriptive writing isn’t just about setting the scene and making the reader feel like he or she is there—it also has a number of other important benefits, including:

1. Make Your Writing Sing

Adding detailed turns of phrase to an otherwise stagnant piece can make the whole thing sing a little louder—and ultimately makes the work a lot more entertaining to read. 

No one really wants to hear about “the great pizza [you] had for dinner last night” if that’s all you say about it.  But if you instead talk about how “the gooey, stringy melted cheese was sinfully delicious and covered in oily, perfectly crisped pepperoni,” things become much more vivid and interesting.

2. Teach Students to Be More Observant

You can’t write descriptively if you aren’t paying attention—which is why descriptive writing practice is such a good way to help students learn to be more observant. 

By asking students to stop and pay attention to the little details they usually just ignore, you give them the opportunity to slow down a little and better take in the world around them.

3. Improve General Writing Skills

Finally, descriptive writing is also a fantastic way for students to improve their general writing skills.  Adding in fresh, new details helps kids learn to use more varied language and to convey their stories and characters more effectively. 

It’s also a great way to work in additional facts and aspects of a situation that might otherwise be difficult to include.

Descriptive Writing Exercises for Young Students

Could your students’ writing use a little extra pizazz and panache?  Use these simple writing activities to help them learn how to use detail and description to level up their work!

1. Use Your Five Senses

Ask students to describe a person, place, or setting using all five of their senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. 

By stopping and paying attention to all five senses during a normal, everyday moment, your students will become more attuned to all the many things going on around them every day.

2. Add As Many Adjectives As You Can

Another fun way to introduce your students to descriptive writing is to play a silly game called “Adjective Avalanche”. 

The goal here is to pile on as many adjectives as possible to an existing piece of writing, no matter how superfluous they may seem.  Then, have your students read through the revised versions to see how the addition of adjectives and descriptions can totally transform a simple piece of work.

3. Make Synonym Lists

In a similar vein, we also recommend using synonym lists to help your students keep their writing creative and fresh. 

Ask your students to list five adjectives on a piece of paper.  Then, they should list all the synonyms they can find that could be used in place of the original words. 

By the end of the exercise, your students will have a newfound appreciation for the power of mixing up your word choice and creating individualized, unique works!

10 Descriptive Writing Prompts to Use in Your Classroom

Now that you’ve learned why teaching descriptive writing to young students is so important and practiced some general exercises with them, it’s time to move on to the more detailed work! 

Use these 10 new writing prompts to help your class practice their powers of description and their ability to set a scene.

  1. Recall a favorite memory with your family and use descriptive writing to set the scene vividly.  Include as many details as you can that would make a reader feel like he or she was there, too.
  2. Describe your favorite holiday from start to finish.  Is there special food?  Do you wear a special outfit?  What traditions are part of the day?  What makes the holiday more special than other celebrations to you?
  3. Imagine that you step through a portal and are transported to a day 100 years in the future (or 100 years in the past).  What does the world around you look like?  How do people dress?  Are there any items around that you don’t recognize?  Describe what this unfamiliar place is like.
  4. It’s a hot summer day at the beach—and all around you, people are laughing and enjoying the beautiful outdoors.  Write descriptively about everything you experience: the sights, the smells, the sounds, and the way the sand feels between your toes.  Use as much detail as you can!
  5. Picture a specific room in your family’s home and use descriptive writing to explain what it looks like to someone who has never visited before.  Include details about the colors and objects in the room.  How does your family use the room?  How frequently does the look of the room change?
    Descriptive Writing Guide and Writing Prompts
  6. What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?  Write about the activity with as much detail as possible, taking care to describe all the things that make it so fun and special—as well as how you feel when the weekend is over.
  7. Imagine that you are describing your best friend to someone who has never met him or her.  What would you say to convey your friend’s personality?  How would you describe the way that he or she looks?  Use as many specific details and adjectives as you can to capture your friend on the page!
  8. Look outside the window and describe everything you see in detail.  Start with the things that jump out at you immediately—and then try to describe some things that you didn’t notice at first.
  9. Use descriptive language to write about the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen.  Describe what qualities made it so special to you.
  10. Describe your favorite dessert in vivid, specific detail.  Explain how it looks, smells, and tastes with as many descriptions as you can.  Then, describe the experience of eating it.

Until next time, write on…

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Descriptive Writing Tips and Exercises
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