Fall is officially here … candy corn is on the shelves, pumpkin spice lattes are a morning staple, and in school, we’re settled into our new routines. Now, that we can catch our breath after the start of the school year, it’s fun to plan our first holiday ELA activity for Halloween!
Our students LOVE this descriptive writing activity, and we LOVE that they are practicing: establishing a point of view, using precise words, and adding descriptive details, sensory details, and figurative language.
Here’s an outline of our lesson that takes 3-4 class periods depending on your level of students:
- Before beginning the activity, explain to students that they will be creating a descriptive writing piece based on a Halloween-related object, writing from the point of view of that object! Brainstorm various objects as a class (some of our favorites: witch, haunted house, spider, pumpkin, zombie).
- Read some mentor texts to students that showcase strong descriptive writing. We like to use an excerpt from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” describing Ichabad Crane. We ask students to identify powerful vocabulary words, identify sensory details, and list any figurative language they encounter.
- Review the main types of point of view. We stick with first person, first person omniscient, third person, and third person omniscient. We review the criteria of each and provide students with examples from literature. It’s really fun to simply write the examples on the board and have students justify which point of view they think it is. This is important as students will be choosing a point of view in which to write their descriptive writing piece!
- We then allow our students time to brainstorm some Halloween figurative language of their own. We remind them that often times, their first attempt at figurative language may not be their best. Here’s the examples we model for them:
- Tree branches seem like skeleton’s fingers. (simile)
- Halloween Eve was pitch black with a huge apple-white moon. (metaphor)
- The skeleton dragged his corpse across the graveyard. (personification)
- Before writing, we have students fill out a brainstorming graphic organizer where they identify the object they will write about, list physical descriptions, sensory details, choose their point of view, and list a few spooky Halloween words they may wish to include in their description.
- Finally, it’s time to write! We like to have our students keep their objects a secret from their classmates and never identify what the object is in their writing. It should be descriptive enough for readers to figure out what it is! We also include time to illustrate their object, which makes for some great Halloween decor in the classroom or hallways!
Here’s the sample we share with our students:
“The bright orange sphere rests quietly on its dark, dreary doorstep at 128 Sycamore Street. A coarse stump penetrates its scalp, trying to grasp a breath of fresh air like a diver breaking through the surface of the glassy ocean. It looks to its neighbor feeling dwarfed by the larger, more dominant gourd. Its carved, cackling, missing-toothed smile beckons eager trick-or-treaters toward the basket of delicious candy nearby. Come November 1st, it will be of no more use on the doorstep and be turned into a spice-filled dessert.”
For complete access to this fun activity, including all the graphic organizers, rubric, and even a mini poster for a bulletin board, click here or on the image below! We hope your kids love this as much as ours do 🙂