Thursday, March 29, 2012

Adding Detail with Color Words

There are many lessons we can use to help our students add detail to their writing, but one quick way I, and the students, enjoy is color words in nature. There are probably more important details one could use in descriptive writing than color, but for some students noticing color and placing it in their writing gets them aware of the process of adding this type of detail.

We start by spending time outside on a bright spring day when there are scores of shades of green from tree top to the grass below. Or on a fall day when trees blaze with shades of red, brown and gold. Students list, sketch, or write descriptions about nature.

The next step sounds messy, but can be done somewhat easily. On reused foam trays I drop different tempera paint in nature's colors. Students dab the ends of paper towel tubes into this paint, blend the colors, then place the paper towel end on paper. This creates a circle of the shades of nature they observed outdoors.

Then we borrow the art teacher's collection of crayons. The huge boxes. Carefully, since they are borrowed, students comb through the crayons and hunt for the shades they saw in nature. They read the name of the crayon printed on it's paper label and write this inside the tempera paint circle they created earlier.

Outside we go again with their paint circles and color names. They can create poetry, describe nature before them, write a narrative piece but should look for a place to use these new found color words.

Sure, they initially have an overuse of these words. But they also get insight into adding descriptions.

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