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Welcome, Young Writers!
The Idea Game
brainstorming three sensory details about a personal topic
before writing about it
How can using your five senses help you tell a better story?
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Ideas for Teachers from Teachers How do you teach young writers to carefully select sensory details to include in a piece of personal writing?
I teach 2nd grade students and have been influenced by Reggie Routman and Shelley Harwayn, both of whom value the personal narrative for young writers. However, trying to get young children to move beyond the "then and thens" is a challenge.
I would recommend reading Letting Swift River Go by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Barbara Cooney prior to a lesson on writing a personal narrative using at least three of your senses. It is a wonderful, historical story told through the eyes of a young girl about her "thriving hometown being transformed into a wilderness and then submerged." There are beautiful descriptions of her town, a reference to tasting the sap from the maple trees, how the waters moved in slowly and silently, and other beautiful descriptive language.
I try to incorporate concrete objects for my first and second graders to write about. My most succesfuls lesson included apples. We brainstormed "juicy" words, similes, and even looked in the thesaurus for more interesting words.
I sliced up apples, passed out paper, and had students write about how the apples tasted, smelled, and sounded.