Is school work and/or writing getting a little hard as the weather gets warmer and Summer seems to be rapidly approaching? Try this fun descriptive writing exercise to take a break from the routine but still teach a better way to write! Look at the picture below:
There are several different methods we can use to describe this picture. We can describe the picture from left to right, top to bottom, or from the center outward. Let me show you three examples:
Left To Right:
“In a blur of rainbow colors, the train speed away down the track, not even pausing for a break on the way to its destination. The tattered advertisements on the walls were covered up for a brief moment as the train raced along. The roar of noise echoed through the tunnel and bounced off of the white tile floor and concrete walls. The man walking closest to the track barely seemed to notice the noise as he headed towards his next stop to wait, determination in his stride. Others walked slowly besides him, underneath the white florescent lights, trying to stay out of the way. A few paced the floor, the tap of their shoes only heard once the train left the station. It was the monotonous day’s commute. Trains racing too and fro, people standing with their backs up against the wall, waiting. Others rushing about in a desperation to make their connecting trains. No one was really friendly. It was just a sea of faces doing what they did every single day of their lives.”
Top To Bottom:
“Bright white lights shone on the white concrete ceiling and walls, making the underground train station appear unnaturally bright and almost hostile. Some of the commuters squinted a little as they watched the train race past. People hugged their coats to themselves as they made their way to their appropriate stops. The tunnel was a less than a warm and friendly atmosphere, but one that everyone was used to. The hustle and bustle of tons of moving feet on the dirty tile floor made a constant shuffling noise as everyone tried to stay out of each other’s way.”
Center And Out:
“A man with a heavy coat and a backpack slung over one shoulder walked quickly through the station. The train rushed past him in a whirl of noise and color, but he scarcely noticed as he looked down the long, bleak tunnel full of harsh light. No one really noticed anyone as they made their way along. He was vaguely aware of the people on his left that were standing and waiting, or pacing back and forth, or slowly following him to the next train stop. That’s all the mattered. Getting wherever you had to go quickly and getting out of the bleak and lonely tunnel and back to work.”
Do you see how every time I tried a new descriptive style the subject of the paragraph changed? The first paragraph (left to right) had the subject as the train because that’s what was seen/described first. The second paragraph (top to bottom) had the subject as the whole atmosphere of the train station with the focus being derived from the harsh light. The third paragraph (center and outward) had the subject being the man with the backpack and showed things from his perspective.
Go over these different ways of describing pictures with your children and show them the difference. Make sure they use as many big and expressive words as they can! Use a thesaurus if it would help!