Descriptive language describes a person, object or place in such a way that the reader is able to visualise the image in the same way as the writer. It requires the writer to pay close attention to details using all the senses: Taste, touch, sight, smell and hearing. Writers use a range of techniques to convey this information such as adjectives, adverbs and figurative language (metaphors, similes, personification, etc.) and precise language (e.g., whispered instead of said).
The Image Tree is an activity that helps students focus on developing the descriptive language used in their writing.
This is a great activity to do at home or in a classroom. If you have a tree in your yard you can do it outside or you can find a large branch and do it inside.
You will need:
- Strips of white or coloured paper.
- Coloured markers
- Twist ties, string or wool
- Single hole punch
- Access to a laminator or clear adhesive
- Examples of descriptive language (e.g., http://examples.yourdictionary.com/descriptive-text-examples.html) .
Discuss the examples of descriptive language. What makes them interesting? What comparisons are being made? Which sense is being used? What emotion is evoked?
Now it’s the students’ turn. You might find it useful to have some stimulus pictures. Begin by working together and gradually reduce the scaffolding as the students learn to create their own descriptive images.
Once the description has been checked and errors correct, it is written neatly on a strip of paper. Laminate or cover the strip with clear adhesive, punch a hole in one end and hang from the Image Tree.
Descriptions can be added to the Image Tree throughout the year. When students are completing a writing activity, they can refer to the Image Tree for ideas of descriptive language to use in their own writing.