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Descriptive Sensory Writing
Lesson Objective
Students will be able to incorporate sensory details into a piece of descriptive writing. Students will improve a piece of
writing by using precise and vivid language and word choice. This lesson can be divided into 2 separate lessons
Background Information for Teacher
Student Prior Knowledge
Materials: Picture books incorporating sensory details:(these books can be found at your local library)
Owl Moon
, Jame Yolen
Miss Rumphius
, Barbara Cooney
Twilight Comes Twice
, Ralph Flectcher
Other books by Eve Bunting
Other books by Cynthia Rylant
Pictures or postcards (one per student)
Step-by-Step Guided Lesson
Step 1: Start Video
(Tips: Interact with the video by pausing, to ask questions or discuss information viewed with student.)
Step 2: Teach Lesson
Tell the student, today we will be working on descriptive writing using sensory details.
Pass out pictures or postcards to the student. Instruct the student to write a description of the scene.
Have the student share their writing.
Read aloud one of the suggested titles (or a title of your choice) that incorporates the use of strong sensory details.
Have the student listen for phrases that draw on the senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, and hearing.
After finishing the book, chart sensory details on the board
Discuss with the student how using a variety of sensory details improves a piece of writing.
Have the student return to their postcard or picture description and underline examples of sensory details in different
colors. For example, underline sight details in red, and touch details in green.
Discuss which type of details the student focused on and are needing improvement.
Have the student return to the pictures or postcards and write down any additional sensory details.
Have the student revise their descriptive paragraphs by including additional sensory details and vivid language.
Have the student compare the original and final versions of their paragraphs.
Writing Prompt Assignment: Think of a place that you can remember clearly and that is important to you. Think of the
sights, sounds, and smells that come rushing back into your memory. Use words to paint a picture of this place that would
make a reader feel as if he or she were right there.
Show the student the examples below before they start their writing assignment. This will help the student better
understand what to do for the assignment.
My Grandparents' House (Step 3)
Ideas and Content:
Ideas are clear and focused. Details are meaningful to the author. (Example: "Then the strong embrace of my grandpa
makes me feel safe.") The writing gives insight into why the place is important to the author.
The writing flows effectively from idea to idea. The presentation of information moves the reader through the text.
Important moments (such as when grandparents are hugging the writer) are "slowed down" and elaborated.
The tone adds interest to the writing and is appropriate to the audience. Voice has an honest and soothing feel.
Word Choice:
Word choice is natural and effective. The writer includes specific details, such as the "calming sound of people talking."
Sentence Fluency:
Sentences flow easily and with rhythm. The paper lends itself to being read aloud. Sentences are correctly constructed
and hang together.
Spelling is generally correct. Errors tend to be few and do not get in the way of meaning.
Areas Needing Improvement:
Revise for a stronger conclusion.
Add lively verbs.
Add some variety to length of sentences.
Add commas to compound sentences.
My Backyard (Step 3)
Ideas and Content:
The topic is specific and a manageable size. Ideas are fresh and help the reader to see things in new ways. (Example: "...
a place to let out your frustration when no one will listen to you.") The reader is not left with unanswered questions; the
reader can picture the scene clearly.
The organization is strong enough to move reader through the text without confusion.
The voice is relaxed and honest. The tone of the writing adds interest because of rich and vivid description.
Word Choice:
The writing has strong sensory details. (Example: " breeze of wind runs into our mouths.") There is some good use
of simile and metaphor. (Example: "...leaves feel like velvet.")
Sentence Fluency:
The sentence structure and length enhance meaning. Sentences are of appropriate length and feel relaxed. The paper
lends itself to being read aloud.
Spelling is generally correct. There are some errors needing correction before the paper is published.
Areas Needing improvement:
Strengthen lead and conclusion.
Add lively verbs.
Polish for conventions.
Untitled (Step 3)
Ideas and Content:
The topic is fairly broad. The writer seems to be drawing on knowledge or experience, but has difficulty going from general
observations to specifics.
This paper needs the most work in the area of organization. The writer needs a recognizable introduction and conclusion.
The voice is earnest and pleasing but not compelling. It lacks individuality.
Word Choice:
Word choice is adequate and correct but not colorful. It is marred by passive rather than active verbs.
Sentence Fluency:
The paper hums along with a steady beat. The use of creative and appropriate transitions would enhance the fluency.
End punctuation is generally correct, and most words are capitalized correctly. Internal punctuation is faulty, and the
spelling of some words is incorrect.
Arcade (Step 3)
Ideas and Content:
The writer generally stays on the topic, but lacks ideas that are fresh and original.
The sequencing shows logic, and the pacing is fairly well controlled. However, the paper ends abruptly, without a
recognizable conclusion. The opening could also be more inviting.
The writer seems sincere and pleasant but not compelling. The writer appears to play it safe and does not reveal who he
or she is.
Word Choice:
Familiar words and phrases communicate and show an attempt at colorful language. Words and phrases are functional
but lack active verbs.
Sentence Fluency:
Parts of the text invite expressive oral reading, but sentence structure is lacking. Endless conjunctions ("and," "and so,"
etc.) create too many run-on sentences.
Spelling is usually correct, but there are some internal punctuation problems. The paper needs paragraphing and
fine-tune editing.
Step 3: Complete the worksheet attached below.
Worksheets needed to complete the lesson
Step 4: Review: Start the next lesson with the game or activity attached below for review so the student can
demonstrate understanding of this lesson before moving forward.
My Fiction Story (offline) activity
Have the student create their own fiction story using descriptive sensory writing. The story can be about anything they
want. Make your reader feel as if they were a part of the story. Make them experience the same things your characters
experience. Be super creative, but don’t forget to have lots of sensory details. Once the student finishes the story have
them share it.