Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (2023)

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (1)The main goal of descriptive writing is to describe a person, place, or thing in a way that creates a picture in the reader's mind. Capturing an event through descriptive writing requires you to use all five senses to pay attention to detail. Teaching students to write more descriptively will improve their writing and make it more interesting and engaging to read.

How to use:Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (2)IndividuallyDescriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (3)with small groupsDescriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (4)Class-wide configuration

What is descriptive writing?

Descriptive writing helps the reader visualize the person, place, thing, or situation being described. When a text evokes a vivid sensory impression in the reader's mind, it not only makes the writing more interesting to read; It helps the reader to better understand the text and see the author's intention more clearly.

Why teach descriptive writing?

  • Help students make their writing more interesting and attractive.
  • Provide opportunities for students to practice using new words in meaningful contexts, a key strategy in vocabulary building.
  • Descriptive writing usually includes figurative language such as simile, metaphor, and onomatopoeia. Recognizing the figurative language in mentors' writing and incorporating it into their own writing helps students develop critical verbal thinking skills. For more information on verbal reasoning and other components of language comprehension, seeAdvanced section of the Understanding modulefrom our Reading 101 course.
  • It encourages students to learn and be metacognitive about the techniques other writers use to write descriptive descriptions.
  • This can help students clarify their understanding of the new subject matter and better remember what they have learned.

How to teach descriptive writing

I wish descriptive writing was as simple as "show, don't tell"! Descriptive writing is a skill and craft that requires guidance, practice, and time to learn. The good news is that it can be taught explicitly. An understanding of the characteristics of effective descriptive writing, combined with a toolkit of structures and strategies to support learning and practice, can foster students' development as authors of vivid and impactful writing.

What effective descriptive writing looks like

Authors of descriptive writing use a variety of styles and techniques to engage with readers, but effective descriptive writing generally shares these characteristics:

  • vivid details.Specific details paint a picture in the reader's mind and appeal to the reader's senses. Descriptive writing can also go beyond creating a strong sensory impression and giving the reader a "picture" of the feelings that the description evokes in the writer.
  • figurative language.Tools of the writer such as analogy, simile and metaphor add depth to the authors' descriptions.
  • precise language.Common adjectives, nouns, and passive verbs are used sparingly. Instead, specific adjectives and nouns, as well as strong action verbs, bring to life the picture forming in the reader's mind.
  • reflective organization.Some ways to organize descriptive writing include: chronological (time), spatial (place), and order of importance. Descriptive writing about a person can begin with a physical description, followed by how the person thinks, feels, and acts.

What does effective instruction in descriptive writing look like?

There is no one right approach to teaching descriptive writing, but effective teaching often involves:

  • Mentorentexte.Read aloud and review texts written by top-class mentors so students understand how authors use descriptive writing to connect with readers.
  • Concentrate on all five senses.Help students make the connection between sensory information (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch) and descriptive writing.
  • teacher modeling.Model different ways to generate descriptive writing.
  • Accompanied exercise.Repeated and structured practice to meet student needs.
  • Comments and Review.Cycles of constructive feedback from faculty and peers, followed by reflective review.

Watch a demo: Show NO by saying with your 5 senses

In this virtual class, the teacher models the creation of written descriptions of a hot day using the five senses as a framework.

Watch a lesson in the classroom: the Five Senses graphic organizer

Students use their five senses and a graphic organizer to brainstorm ideas for writing a report on a recent school event and help them find interesting words for their report. see thecurriculum.

Watch a classroom debate: Writers Workshop

The writing workshop combines great children's literature with children's writing experiences. In this video clip ourPBS series launch for young readers, Lynn Reichle's second graders practice using descriptive writing.

collect resources

Here are some routines and structures for teaching descriptive writing:

Israft strategyencourages descriptive writing and supports writing in general by encouraging students to think about the author's role, audience, format, and subject matter. ReadWriteThink offers thisRAFT writing template.

That's itdirection chart—divided into the categories of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch — helps students capture sensory details about a subject. Hewheel descriptionprovides a more open format for capturing and organizing descriptive language.

Isshow me sentencesThe ReadWriteThink lesson plan was created for students in grades 6-12. However, elementary school teachers can modify the Show Me phrases to make them interesting for younger students.

That's itUnterrichtsplan des Utah Education NetworkGuides students through the process of writing about a favorite place in descriptive language.

That's itTeaching plan of the Philadelphia Museum of Artlets students work collaboratively to create descriptive writing about artworks. It is intended for the upper grades of primary and secondary school but can be adapted for the beginning grades.

Teacher Laura Torres created a lesson plan that uses images to encourage lively writing:Three prompts with descriptive typefaces.

Differentiation Statement

For English learners, readers at different language levels, or students who need extra support:

  • Use dictation to capture students' thoughts and ideas.
  • Provide sentence structures to write descriptive sentences or paragraphs.
  • Use images and other sensory cues.
  • Offer aspiring writers real or virtual experiences that give them something to write about. Trips to a relative's house, the playground, or the supermarket provide real-world experiences for a new writer to capture.
  • Encourage students to create initial designs with a partner or in a small group.
  • Work with students to create a database of interesting and descriptive words for students to incorporate into their writing.

expand learning


This resource for schools in Greenville County, South Carolina offers several ideas forWriting in math class. Writing and math are similar in that both involve collecting, organizing, and clarifying thoughts. Writing can support math lessons by helping students understand important concepts and processes.


Descriptive scientific writing can help students grasp scientific observations and phenomena more accurately, and can help students understand new material by explaining it in their own words. Fazio and Gallagher proposetwo parenting strategiesto help teachers and students with science writing: a mnemonic acronym (POWER) and an editing checklist.

social sciences

In the social sciences, descriptive writing can help students describe an important historical figure or event more clearly. Writing in great detail will create vivid depictions of people and places and help bring the story to life.

(Video) Cooperative Learning: The Jigsaw Method

Related Strategies

  • BALSAhelps students understand their role as a writer, the audience they are writing for, the different writing formats, and the topic they will be writing about.
  • Revisionteaches students the characteristics of good writing that can be applied to their future writing. Review skills complement reading skills; Proofreading requires authors to stop writing and critically evaluate a text.
  • writing conferencesGive students the opportunity to share their texts and get feedback from their classmates or the teacher.
  • think out loudcan be used to write and read instructions

Learn more about developing writing skills in our self-study moduleRead 101: Write.

Check out the research that supports this strategy

Akerson, V.L. & Young, T.A. (2005). Science of how to "write".science and children, 43(3), 38-41.

MacArthur C, Graham S and Fitzgerald J (2016).Write a research manual(2nd Edition). New York: Gilford.

Miller, R.G. & Calfee, R.C. (2004). Making thinking visible: A method for promoting scientific writing in the elementary school and children, (42)3, 20-25.

Mitchell, D. (1996). Write to learn through the curriculum and English teacher.diary in English, 85, 93-97.

Children's books that can be used with this strategy

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (5)

The Red Hen (makes a pizza)

Por: Philemon Sturges

Age range: 3-6

Reading Level: Beginner Reader

In this twist on the traditional fairy tale, the irrepressible red hen makes pizza. Describe why your friends didn't help you and in what order they declined your request. Make the pizza, its maker, and irresistible toppings in your description. Compare it to a traditional version.

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (6)

Read a rhyme, write a rhyme

Von: Jack Prelutsky

Age range: 6-9

Reading Level: Independent reader

A prolific (and popular) poet, Prelutsky provides opening poems for slightly older children. Young poets can complete the “first poems” suggested here or create their own original poem.

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (7)

Glass slipper, golden sandal: a global Cinderella

By: Paulo Fleischmann

Genre: Fiction, fairy tales, folk tales and fantastic stories

Age range: 9-12

Reading Level: Independent reader

Cinderella stories can be found all over the world; Here they have been fused into a single story, with features in the text and illustrations that reflect the different backgrounds. Expand portions of the story to reflect the traditions of the culture and history from which it originated. It may be possible to develop a story map (e.g. ancient versus modern countries or as a visual representation of where the story is or will be told).

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (8)

Each orange had 8 slices: a counting book

Von: Paul Giganti

Age range: 6-9

Reading Level: Independent reader

Counting is fun, especially in this nifty yet accessible and beautifully illustrated book. Various situations are presented in simple sentences, followed by questions answered by counting. Describe each situation in the order presented.

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (9)

A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Miracles

Por: Walter Wick

Genre: Nonfiction

Age range: 9-12

Reading Level: Independent reader

Attracting Water Photographs in Various States not only features water, but weather, solids and liquids, and more. The challenging text encourages additional experimentation and observation, although it is not necessary to use the entire book with younger children.

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (10)

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26 letters and 99 cents

By: Tana Hoban

Age range: 3-6

Reading Level: Beginner Reader

Sequencing, sets, counting, and money (coins) are presented in crisp photos in this wordless concept book. Uppercase and lowercase letters from A to Z with corresponding objects is half the book; Flip it over and numbers, counting and more are introduced.

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (11)

I face the wind

Out: Vicky Cobb

Genre: Nonfiction

Age range: 6-9

Reading Level: Independent reader

Children are encouraged to observe as an experiment while learning about wind and air, as well as practice scientific writing describing their findings.

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (12)

Dollar Cent

By: Pat Brisson

Age range: 6-9

Reading Level: Beginner Reader

A child has five cents and spends them one by one while meeting people on a walk. Told in rhyme, this cumulative story is engaging and well supported by illustrations.

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (13)

Jack and the Magic Beans

By: Nina Crews

Genre: Fiction, fairy tales, folk tales and fantastic stories

Age range: 3-6

Reading Level: Beginner Reader

The traditional tale of a boy who planted magic beans is reimagined as a town tale of a broken spell. Illustrations are photographs that have been manipulated for good effect.

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (14)

Soup Day

By: Melissa Iwai

Genre: Fiction

Age range: 0-3

Reading level: Lecturer

On a snowy day, mother and son collect ingredients for a soup and put everything in the pot. The couple will play snuggly and warm while the soup cooks until dad comes home and they enjoy the soup together. Crisp collages and simple text invite reading.

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (15)

It Ain't Easy: The Story of Ted Williams and the Final .400 Season

By: Fred Bowen

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography

Age range: 9-12

Reading Level: Independent reader

Ted Williams never shied away from hard work or a challenge. In his final season with the Boston Red Sox, Williams had to choose between taking a risk and losing his rare $400 average or stepping onto the field. Williams' Decision makes fascinating reading in this beautiful, thoughtful look at one man's ethics and the times in which he lived.

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The Boy Who Invented Television: The Story of Philo Farnsworth

Por: Kathleen Krull

Genre: biography, non-fiction

Age range: 6-9

Reading Level: Independent reader

(Video) Learning to Write with Correct Letter Formation full Alphabet

Two devices intrigued young Philo Farnsworth: a telephone and a phonograph. Both had cranks and both connected people (one in real time, the other through music). These and other inspirations motivated young Philo to invent what later became known as television. His first story is fascinatingly told and beautifully illustrated.

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (17)

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11

Von: Brian Floca

Genre: Nonfiction

Age range: 6-9

Reading Level: Independent reader

Relive the journey of Apollo 11, where the first humans walked the surface of the moon and saw Earth from a very different perspective. Eloquent language and illustrations combine to present this historic event in a unique and unforgettable way.

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (18)

If America Were a Village: A Book About the People of America

By: David Smith

Genre: Nonfiction

Age range: 6-9

Reading Level: Independent reader

If all 300 million people were just a people of 100 people, their diversity would be easier to understand. This is exactly what the author did to create the complex composition of US citizens (in terms of languages ​​spoken, ages and more). Full color illustrations accompany understandable text. Additional sources complete the book.If The World Were A Village: A Book About The People Of The World, also by Smith, considers the world's inhabitants as one people in order to make their diversity more comprehensible to adults and children alike.

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (19)

One world, one day

By: Barbara Kerley

Genre: Nonfiction

Age range: 3-6

Reading Level: Beginner Reader

Every day, children around the world wake up to start their day with breakfast, go to school, and go home to their families. A poetic text is combined with photographs from countless countries to visually highlight the richness of the world and its people.

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (20)

10 minutes to bedtime

Von: Peggy Rathman

Genre: Fiction

Age range: 3-6

Reading Level: Beginner Reader

At One Hoppin' Place, the countdown to bedtime begins when a family of hamsters, a mother and father with nine children and a baby, all dressed in striped, numbered t-shirts, arrive at the front door. .

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (21)

or mysterious tadpole

Por: Steven Kellog

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Age range: 3-6

Reading Level: Beginner Reader

When Louis' uncle sends a tadpole from a certain lake in Scotland, the little tadpole grows to enormous proportions. With the help of a resourceful librarian, Louis finds a way to feed his giant, ever-hungry Alphonse and finds a permanent solution. Humor abounds in this contemporary classic.

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (22)

As big words from Martin: The life of Dr. Martin Martin Luther King Jr.

Von: Doreen Rappaport

Genre: biography, non-fiction

Age range: 6-9

Reading Level: Beginner Reader

Martin Luther King Jr. grew up fascinated by big words. He later used these words to inspire a nation and call people to action. In this award-winning book, King's powerful portraits show how he used words, not weapons, to fight injustice.

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (23)

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Squid will be squid

By: Jon Scieszka

Age range: 3-6

Reading Level: Beginner Reader

Scieszka and Smith began creating new fables: short traditional stories intended to teach a moral lesson. With humorous twists, new, different and wacky fables are presented for the reader's edification and enjoyment.

Descriptive letter | Classroom Strategy | read rockets (24)

science verse

By: Jon Scieszka

Genre: poetry

Age range: 6-9

Reading Level: Independent reader

This boy's curse begins when his teacher suggests that the "poetry of science" be heard everywhere. From Moore to Frost, well-known poems are parodied and turned into scholarly verse. Once again, art and illustration are inseparable, as are the laughs in this unconventional take on science.


Easy to read and understand.

That was very helpful. Very detailed in my opinion.

Very good examples and good cool videos. Videos make it easy to understand.


Entertaining, useful, accurate, and captures all the elements needed to create a descriptive essay.

Great, they are also supported by videos and some examples.

amazing and helps me to learn

clear information, short and interesting examples and also provides a good video

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