One way to help students with their paragraph writing is to introduce them to descriptive writing. Descriptive writing allows students to add a variety of details to their words. It lets them get creative with adjectives and encourages them to write more concrete sentences and ideas. Use the ideas below in your writing block to strengthen your student’s paragraph writing skills!
What Is Descriptive Writing?
Descriptive writing is exactly how it sounds, it provides the reader with all the information needed in order to visualize a scene. Think of it as if you are watching a movie with your eyes closed. You want to be able to visualize everything in the background, who is there, what’s going on, and what season it is.
Use this exact concept when teaching your students how to expand on their writing! Tell them to provide the people, places, and objects involved in the event so that the reader can picture it perfectly in their mind as if they were there!
1. Invite Students to Write Using Descriptive Word Choices
The best part of descriptive writing is that students get to use their knowledge of adjectives and new vocabulary words. Before students get to writing, give them a list of words that may apply to their writing. Show them words that are boring and provide alternate ideas to spice things up. Some teachers call these Dead Words and have students send those boring words to the graveyard!
For example, if students are writing about an event on the playground, encourage them to use words they wouldn’t normally use. If the word FUN comes to mind, have them brainstorm a list of alternates that they can use instead.
Instead of writing, “I had fun on the playground,” they may now write, “Recess on the playground today was a blast because we played pretend laser tag.” Both the writer and the reader get a lot more out of using exciting words instead of those boring, dead words.
Can’t think of writing prompts for your kids to use? Try using these Weekly Descriptive Writing Prompts that encourage students to complete their paragraph writing with more detail. The weekly prompts are all prepared for you, so all you have to do is print and assign throughout the week during your writing block!
2. Show Students How to Use Figurative Language
Figurative language is a fun part of descriptive paragraph writing. Don’t be afraid to let students show their creativity by using examples of analogies, similes, and metaphors in order to engage the reader! This is a tricky skill to master and takes work, but as your kids begin using this strategy, they will find their paragraph writing is much more fun to read.
One way is to have a small lesson where you discuss ways your students can liven up a sentence using figurative language. Give them a scenario and then invite them to offer alternate sentences that make yours more interesting. For example, you might give them the sentence, “The cat was purring.” Students will give their ideas and might come up with things like, “The cat was making a noise like a motorboat” or “The sound of the engine coming from the cat’s chest”. Kids will find fun ways to describe the scenarios and it’s a great way to get their brains warmed up for paragraph writing.
The same writing prompts mentioned above are also available in digital form. The Weekly Descriptive Paragraph Writing Prompts are a great way to let students practice the skills they just learned. Their writing can be recorded on tablets or computers. Just like the print version, there is a prompt for every week that lets students work through their writing at their own pace.
3. Let Students Check One Another’s Work
Students love collaborating! One of the best ways to encourage students to write better is to let them check each other’s work. It’s one thing to let a teacher read their writing, but their peers may motivate them more. One way students can work together is to provide positive feedback to each other. Try to sandwich positive notes about the paragraph writing with something that the student may need to work on.
This exercise can be performed in small groups or in pairs. The students write their pieces and then you set aside a day to read and comment on classmates’ work. Use fun pens, because who doesn’t love editing with a colorful pen! Depending on the day, kids may also share out any great feedback they got so other students can learn from their mistakes. The kids always love these days because there is more interaction and not just writing for the whole block.
We use Weekly Writing Prompts from the Paragraph Writing Bundle to brainstorm. The weekly prompts break the ideas down into several days so students only have to focus on one thing at a time. The bundle has informative, opinion, and narrative paragraph writing prompts to choose from.