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Vivid Descriptions and Works of Art


artwork on walls




  • Language Arts
  • Visual Arts


  • 6-8

Brief Description

Students use vivid word choice to describe a character or scene, and a classmate draws that character/scene based on the writing.



  • write descriptively while focusing on ideas and word choice.
  • interpret the writing of another student.
  • draw the character or scene vividly written by a classmate.


    character, scene, descriptive writing, word choice, setting

    Materials Needed

  • paper for writing
  • pen or pencil
  • paper for drawing
  • art supplies for drawing/illustrating
  • dictionary and thesaurus

    The Lesson

    This lesson is appropriate for use as part of a unit in descriptive writing. Some prior instruction in descriptive writing is recommended before using the activity. It might also make a strong culminating activity for a descriptive-writing unit.

    For this activity, students must first choose a person or place to describe. The character or setting could be completely made up; students might create a character or place who/that is a composite of people or places they know; or students might describe a person or place they know, but that person/place should not be someone/someplace familiar to other students. (The reason for the person or place being unfamiliar will become clear later in the lesson; students should not have a preconceived idea of the person or place about which they or their classmates write about.)

    Once students have settled on a character/person or a place/setting, they should brainstorm vivid words that describe that character or place. What does he/she/it look like? smell like? sound like? feel like?...

    After brainstorming vocabulary, students will work through the writing process to write a vivid description of their character or place.

    When the writing is completed, students will exchange papers with classmates. (This might be a direct exchange; or the teacher might collect papers and redistribute randomly and anonymously.) Each student will be responsible for reading the description s/he is handed and drawing a picture of the character or place based on the written description.

    Be sure students understand that they are supposed to draw the literal picture they see in the details of the writing. This is not a free draw; not an opportunity for re-interpreting or taking artistic liberties.

    If you feel it might be helpful, you might read aloud a description you select or write as a practice activity; have students create literal illustrations of that description before you have them illustrate their peers descriptions.
    When the illustrations are complete, students will see a classmates drawn interpretation of their vivid descriptions. The writer will compare the picture with what they imagined the character or place to look like.

    The complete writing and illustrations might make a nice classroom or hallway bulletin-board display.


    A couple of possible assessment approaches:

  • Students can assess their own writing based on the picture that came back with their paper and their mental image. They can answer the questions: Was my description strong enough to elicit a clear picture of the character or place? What might I have done differently to elicit a more clear illustration?
  • The teacher might read/evaluate the descriptions and assess whether the pictures accurately reflect them.

    Submitted By

    Megan Wynne, St. Joseph School in Hawthorne, California


Common Core State Standards




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