Descriptive writing does more than just create an unseen picture for readers, it promotes the use of vocabulary words as well as gives context those vocabulary words to help students understand the definition.
Encouraging students to develop their descriptive writing skills ranks as one of the best ways to improve your first-grade students’ writing. Show your students an example, like the one below of descriptive writing so they know how descriptive writing paints a picture for readers.
Anthony jumps up, and he grabs his Spider-Man backpack as the school bell rings. He couldn’t wait to buckle up in his mom’s blue minivan, even if his little brother dropped his sticky fruit snacks on Anthony’s seat AGAIN.
Note: You could even try a whole wipe board or projected slide on your smart board that gathers several examples and shows a non-descriptive version next to a descriptive one. Taking first-grade students through each example slowly and giving a lot of commentary on why one is better than the other should help, too.
First Grade Writing: How to Introduce Descriptive Writing to Students
A teaching technique that should be an easy concept about descriptive writing for your first-grade students to grasp is this simple rule: “show, don’t tell.”
Show, Don’t Tell
Start the lesson by giving your students an example of how the “show, don’t tell” technique works. Tell the students you’re going to describe your mother. Paint a picture for your students of who your mom is by describing what she looks like, how she speaks and what she likes to do. Make sure to include details such as how tall she is and what her hair color is.
Then ask your students to tell you about your mom—see what details they picked up—and then show them an actual picture to see how close they got.
Next, ask your students to engage in the exercise of describing something to a classmate that the other student can’t see—whether it’s an object at home, a sibling or a pet. Go over the results to gather more examples that demonstrate how words help provide a picture in their heads.
Using the Five Senses
Here’s another way to aid students in understanding how descriptive words provide a way to “show” readers what they should be seeing. Using a flip chart, write the following:
Then ask your students to categorize words that describe a recent school event or field trip that they all attended. Be sure to encourage dialogue about what words better describe the event than others.
Another great technique to teach descriptive writing is utilizing cross-curricular lesson plans. In planning out your spelling word list, pick words that will fit with your writing prompt that you will use to have students practice their descriptive writing.
For example, if you wanted the students to write about superheroes, you might pick such spelling words as fast, tough, brave, secret and fly. While your students practice the words all week, boost their practice by making sure at least a worksheet or two revolve around placing the words in a sentence. It should help the students better understand how to apply the words in context.
When Friday (or your preferred test day) comes along, take the test as usual. Afterwards, rather than moving on to a completely new topic, ask your students to get a piece of paper and use the spelling words to describe their favorite superhero.
Additional resources for you
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