Writing Workshop Mini-Lessons Day 2 – Make the Story Come Alive with Details

Writing Workshop Mini-Lesson #2: Make the Story Come Alive with  Details; Show the reader what happened; Create images in the reader’s mind

WritingWorkshop-MiniLessons

You’ve set up a good writing space, have your supplies – pencils, journals, resource materials. Now what?!! This is the second in a series of 5 posts with lesson ideas to help young writers get started on their writing journey. Be sure to read the introduction to this series in last Monday’s post, Day 1.

Here are some of our first mini-lesson topics. I used mentor texts and picked them apart to help the kids see some of the elements that make for good writing.

In this series I’ll go into more detail on each one:

  1. What makes a good book or story?
  2. Make your story come alive with details and description.
  3. Creating Interesting Characters
  4. Story Openings: Set the mood or feeling of your story
  5. Gathering story ideas from your own life
  6. Alliteration and more

You can use these lessons in any order.

Writing Workshop, Day Two: Make the Story Come Alive with  Details; Show the reader what happened; Create images in the reader’s mind

Discussion with the Kids:

What do you think of these sentences? Do they tell us much?

  • The room was messy.
  • I went to the park and it was fun.
  • There was a dog.
  • It was raining.
  • My friend was nice to me.

How can you make these sentences more descriptive and engaging? Let’s change them to try to show the reader what’s really going on. Explain in detail what happened. Create images and pictures in the reader’s mind. Do this together with the kids to create lively, interesting sentences. [For example, instead of “The room was messy…” The room smelled like a landfill. In the corner were empty pizza boxes. Socks and dirty clothes were strewn all over the floor.]

Mentor Text: Now we’re going to read Where the Wild Things Are.  Let’s really listen to the words the author uses and the descriptive language he uses.

After we read the book: What descriptions really stuck out in your mind? [Let the kids share their ideas. Below are other questions you could ask.]

How did Max’s room change?

  • the room became covered with vines
  • there was an ocean with a boat for Max

What were the monsters like? Even without the illustrations do you have a good idea of what they looked like?

  • The monsters rolled their terrible eyes, gnashed their terrible teeth and showed their terrible claws.

The author worked very hard to create pictures in your mind that would stick with you even after you finished the book.  When you write today, you might try to include scenes that come alive for your reader.  You might try to include details that tell the reader what is happening… what they might see, hear, taste or smell if they were in the world you are writing about.  Authors try to include specific information.  When you go off to write, you might want to keep this in mind.

Here is another example of a mentor text you could use with this lesson.

Discussion with the Kids: Start with the activity on the previous page about making sentences more descriptive and sharing specific details.  Help the students understand how they can show the reader what is happening rather than giving vague information.

  • Mr. Henry was angry. [This could become… Mr. Henry’s face turned bright red. His eyes narrowed and his mouth turned into a thin, white line.]
  • My baby sister wanted that candy.  [My baby sister leaned toward the candy in the checkout aisle. Her hands reached and she started to cry, “Mine, mine, mine.”]

Reading Selection:Today we’re going to read Beatrice’s Goat. She lives in Uganda. As we read, I want you to think about how well the author describes this country since we haven’t been there before.

After we read the book:

What descriptions really stuck out in your mind as we read Beatrice’s Goat? Could you picture what life is like in Uganda? [Let the kids share their ideas. Below are other questions you could ask.]

Can you picture what a typical school scene looks like in Beatrice’s Village?

  • The students sometimes sat on wood benches under the tree.

Did the author do a good job describing the kind of work Beatrice had to do? the kinds of foods she ate?

Do you remember how the author described Beatrice’s goat? Do you know what a mango is? Do you know what shape it is? Why does the goat have a belly like that (It was pregnant)

  • fat and sleek as a ripe mango

Let’s read the opening paragraph again.  Try to picture the scene as I read:

If you were to visit the small African village of Kisinga in the rolling hills of western Uganda, and if you were to take a left at the crossroads and follow a narrow dirt path between two banana groves, you would come to the home of a girl named Beatrice.

Were you able to picture the route to her home? How is it different from where you live?

Writing Time: 

The author worked very hard to create pictures in your mind that would stick with you even after you finished the book.  When you write today, you might try to include scenes that come alive for your reader.  You might try to include details that tell the reader what is happening… what they might see, hear, taste or smell if they were in the world you are writing about.  Authors try to include specific information.  When you go off to write, you might want to keep this in mind.

We set the timer for 10 minutes. When we were all done, we got back together. I asked if they wanted to share what they wrote. After our lesson, I shared my writing (which is in the download below).

Download: Writing Workshop Mini-Lesson Day 2

Make your story come alive with details and description.

WritingWorkshop-MiniLesson2

Do you want to learn more about starting your own Homeschool Writing Workshop? Here are some related posts:

WritingWorkshopResourcePack-HomeschoolDen

 

BiographyProject

YoungWritersSurvivalKit

WWII-Portfolio-Project

Mini-Lessons to Use in a Writing Workshop (in any order):

PlotChicken-Rules-for-Writing

 

Come visit us at the Homeschool Den Facebook Page! I’d love to hear if you found this helpful. Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter! ~Liesl

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16 Responses

  1. March 3, 2014

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  2. March 3, 2014

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  3. March 6, 2014

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  9. April 17, 2014

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