How to Write a Descriptive Paragraph or Essay: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:01 Descriptive Writing
  • 1:57 Writing a Descriptive…
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Lesson Transcript
Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

Expert Contributor
Ginna Wilkerson

Ginna earned M.Ed. degrees in Curriculum and Development and Mental Health Counseling, followed by a Ph.D. in English. She has over 30 years of teaching experience.

There are many different styles and purposes for writing. One type of writing is called descriptive writing. In this lesson, you'll learn about descriptive writing and how to write a descriptive paragraph or essay.

Descriptive Writing

Let's look at a couple of sentences. Ready? Ok. Here's the first sentence:

  • The chicken was good at dancing.

Pretty straightforward. Now the second sentence:

  • Despite being an ordinary egg-laying chicken, Renaldo dazzled the cheering crowd as he peered confidently over the rims of his metallic gray sunglasses while popping, locking, and sliding across the dance floor of the barn under the glittering lights of the makeshift disco ball.

Which of these sentences would you want to read again? Did you select the second sentence? If you did, it's most likely because it was more interesting and helped to create a picture in your mind of Renaldo the disco chicken. It sounds like he is an EGG-cellent dancer!

The second sentence is an example of descriptive writing. Descriptive writing is when an author uses carefully selected words to help create a vivid picture in the reader's mind. Oftentimes, these words involve sensory details, which focus on the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings that are associated with a particular topic.

The goal of descriptive writing is for readers to feel like they are actually experiencing what an author is describing. For example, there were a few descriptions in the sentence that most likely helped you create a mental image of Renaldo's dance fever like:

  • 'cheering crowd'
  • 'he peered confidently over the rims of his metallic gray sunglasses'
  • 'popping, locking, and sliding across the dance floor'
  • 'glittering lights of the makeshift disco ball'

Now that we've learned about descriptive writing, let's hatch a plan to figure out the best way to write a descriptive paragraph or essay. Sorry, but all these chicken jokes must be cracking you up, huh?

Writing a Descriptive Paragraph

If you're going to write a descriptive paragraph or essay, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when writing.

The first thing to do is to use your senses. Once you have selected a topic to write about, it's important to start thinking about what sensory details you can include to help your readers feel like they are experiencing what you are writing. To do this, it helps to ask yourself the following questions:

Sensory details2

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Additional Activities

Descriptive Writing


1. Choose a favorite character from a television program or movie. Imagine that you want to describe that character so that someone who has never seen or heard them will understand who they are. Write two or three paragraphs describing the character. Include how they look physically, what their voice sounds like, and any other details you can think of.

2. Practice using words that relate to each of the five senses used in a descriptive way. Write a description of something that happened in your life. Use specific adjectives to make the scene come alive for your reader. If you would rather, you can turn your remembered event into a short story.

3. Find a picture of an animal in a magazine. It will make this assignment easier if the picture you choose is in color. Write a description of the animal, and then describe a short scene involving the animal like the one in the lesson about Renaldo the chicken.

4. Write a short poem describing a place you've visited. Your place can be an imaginary place from a movie if you like. Try to use words from all the five senses if possible. You don't have to make your poem rhyme, but it should be divided into stanzas, one stanza for each of the five senses in the order presented in the chart at the end of the lesson.

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