Descriptions Using Verbs k3

One of the first things I talk about in my written expression class is  the importance of using verbs to show action. We usually begin with describing what a specific animal does so they can make a connection. When we are comfortable, it is time to select a topic to write descriptive words or phrases about. The children can use these words and/or phrases in sentences about the topic. This activity can be used with predicate expanders, verbs and adjectives depending on the objective.  The results are wonderful!

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When teaching about descriptive words or  predicate expanders, often times we will brainstorm vocabulary lists and use vocabulary cue cards or table-top posters. This strategy will help our young writers focus, make choices, and write with confidence and more clarity. 

A wonderful way to keep our thoughts in order is to scaffold the writing meaningfully and purposefully, while using pictures along the way.  You will be amazed!

Check for Visual Reading and Writing Activities for the Common Core in my store.

Kim Waltmire - The Art of Visual Writing  

Posted on February 18, 2018 .

Elaborated Sentences Using Visual Art

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It's time to enhance descriptive writing with visual art.  Try this K3 lesson:  

Materials you need would be small pictures of animals/ people, places or things, colored pencil/crayons, white paper, construction paper, lined paper or worksheet, pencil, glue and scissors. 

                                                 Elaborated Sentences (example)

The short landscaper couldn't decide whether to trim the bushy hedges or mow the tall green grass today. Age 9   


When using nouns, verbs and adjectives, it is motivating to give the children pre-drawn pictures of animals, people, places or things to color and describe once a week; ages 5-9     (Note: Younger children may need to dictate their elaborated sentences.)

  1. Locate pictures to color and describe in an elaborated sentence (i.e. dogs, cats, fish, insects, people etc.)
  2. Pre-draw the visual(s) or allow the children to illustrate their own detailed pictures; a background is optional. If time is a challenge, select actual photographs for kids to use rather than illustrate. Clip art is a fun and easy way to solve this problem and expedite the lesson. Just use clip art; a small visual for each sentence. Sculptures are fun to use too. (See other ways to use this lesson).
  3. Remind the children to add colorful details to their pictures. This will enable them to have more to write, descriptively.
  4. Allow each child to write a descriptive sentence telling what the “subject” or “noun” looks like and what it is doing and “where”.
  5. The fluffy    cat   is   soaring   in the warm blue sky in my backyard.

        adjective   noun      verb               place……. where?….

  1. Remind the children to use the verb to describe the action. Sometimes it is easier to tell them to use doing words: verbs with ‘ing.’  You decide what suffixes to include: ly, es, ed etc.
  2. In order to reinforce the use of verbs (if this is your ‘skill’ focus), have each child circle the verb. You can do this for nouns and adjectives as well. Have fun and change the colors for each word circled. You will be amazed how well your students will elaborate their thoughts.
  3. Lastly, remember that any visual or object can inspire elaborative writing, so be creative and allow your children to practice weekly.


Depending on the skill you are reinforcing, this activity lends itself easily to assessing descriptive sentences, elaborative sentences (answering: who, what, where, why, when, and how), and use of adjectives, verbs and nouns. Be sure to inform your students about your expectations. Perhaps you can orally assess a particular skill by asking the children to tell you to name the verbs, or nouns and adjectives. Their written application will already be completed. Another way to organize your anecdotal notes can be to create a skill chart and check off the skills that have been mastered or need more improvement.

Other Ways to Use This Lesson:

Remember to allow the opportunity for your learners to write “visually”. Let them see the picture before they write. Train them early to ‘visualize’ and see the details. Guaranteed, your students will feel more confident with this approach.

As stated earlier, this lesson can focus on one skill at a time. When you are introducing “verbs” or action words, decide which kind of verb you want them to use and circle those words in their descriptive sentence. The children can use 3 pictures or clip art and compare “verbs” to match/describe the action with each. You can try present and past verbs too. List the words and create a verb list or verb pictorial dictionary. This activity can give you an on-going assessment as well. Try this activity with adjectives too.

Elaborated puppet sticks are a creative way to excite the children when they write. Children can use colored pictures, clip art, or their own art work to glue at the end of a craft stick as a puppet. Keep the puppet sticks in a basket to be reused throughout the year. Perhaps your puppet sticks are not of people or characters. Let them create scenery or object puppets too. Depending on the objective taught, if you only want to reinforce elaborative writing, allow the children to take a stick out of the basket and write a descriptive sentence. If the children want to use two puppets as characters, let them describe the puppets in an elaborative sentence while comparing the differences and similarities. The puppet is just a visual to ‘hold’. Their writing can be as creative as an elaborative poem, descriptive paragraph or narrative. Let your experienced writers stretch their imaginations and encourage them to use ‘details’.

Additionally, you can use this activity every week for practice along with reinforcing various topics throughout the year. For instance, you may be reading about birds one week, so allow the children to do a similar activity using pictures of birds. If you have stickers, try them to save time. Just illustrate the background.  If time is a challenge, keep pictures or sculptures of animals/people available, with or without a background for your students to use rather than spending time illustrating. If you have time to illustrate, try stencils to trace and add details as needed.

Moreover, create a worksheet with several clip art pictures along the left side of the paper corresponding with a blank line for kids to write an elaborated sentence. Remind the children that color will help their descriptions as well. You can cut the elaborated sentences into strips, glue to construction paper and trim, laminate them and use throughout the year. If you use dry erase markers, the children can color code parts of a sentence by circling each part and simply erase when completed.

Lastly, experienced writers can keep their elaborated work in a personal journal or portfolio to be shared as the year progresses. All you need is a cover. 

Check for Visual Reading and Writing Activities for the Common Core in my store.

Posted on February 18, 2018 .

Why Graphic Organizers?


It is imperative that children learn to take notes and organize their thoughts and facts before, during, and after their reading and writing. You may choose to use some of these organizers and planners the way they are presented.

Perhaps you can add some artistic expression as well. Just cut, glue and embellish! You will undoubtedly be amazed by the presentation when we allow children to transpose their graphics into visual writing. The skills and objectives will be learned with purpose and more effectively because they are not just relying on paper-pencil tasks. 

Your students will be guided into applying what they know and learned through their own expression; their own experiences; so in order to develop their critical thinking skills (comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation), we must provide them with the strategies, organization, and the tools in which to become more expressive. It’s time to bring the CCSS framework to life!

So what are you waiting for?

My students enjoy creating their own organizer too. They take ownership, enjoy their time, all while collecting information along the way. It is part of the creative process. So, take a risk and use these organizers to encourage your students to be creative.

Fold the paper, attach the organizers to colored paper, create frames, borders, pictorials, diagrams, posters, etc. A child’s original creation allows them to think more creatively and feel more independent during the writing process.

Have a Nonfiction Share Fair or Research Exhibit and celebrate! Sure, the process may appear to be long when we encourage our students to explore his/her artistic expression, but I promise you; the end product is so well worth it. 

Check for Visual Reading and Writing Activities in my store.

Kim Waltmire 

It’s more than the Common Core…

It’s Time to Bring the CCSS Framework to Life!

Posted on February 18, 2018 .

Visual and Creative Thinking

An Invitation-

Have you ever had so many creative ideas, some that worked and some that are still pending? Have you ever felt like your creativity was overwhelming, others would never understand it, or your ideas may not be attainable? Maybe you are like so many I have met that think they are not creative, there isn’t enough time to be creative, or their ideas are just too silly and will never work.

The purpose of my blog is to share my heart and background as an educator in the public and private school system. I want to encourage others to find their creative potential, believe in themselves and empower children to ‘dare to dream’. My desire is to share over time a little bit of visionary hope in and out of the classroom through visual and creative writing, community partnerships, and various Project Based Learning units that will undoubtedly inspire our youth, reestablish more self confidence, and empower them to live a life of perseverance and compassion for others. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but by the grace of God’s creative gifting in my life, perhaps I’ll be able to share something that motivates you to look at teaching in another way and help us all realize that we are not alone. It’s time to think creatively. It’s time to think out of the box.

I often begin my creative writing seminars or first writing lesson with an illustration. I draw a few lines with dots separating the lines. I give my guests/students a few moments to look at the visual and predict what they think it might be. After a few hesitant responses, I turn the paper and give the everyone a different perspective and the responses are diverse. Before you know it, we have a few giggles and everybody is waiting for the correct interpretation. I just love this part… “What if I told you that everyone is correct?” Of course we all look intently at each other with confidence on our faces. Now everybody is more relaxed and smiling a lot. It amazes me each time I present this illustration because so many of our children enter school and in this case, writing, from a fear of failure. They are afraid to give a response because we sometimes teach them that there is only one answer, one perspective, and unfortunately, we stifle their creativity. It amazes me how many adults are afraid to respond for fear that their answers are wrong as well.

We need to know that it is okay to ‘change one’s perspective’. It’s okay to think outside the box. Who knows, the children may have a better idea than you and me. When we approach teaching this way, I believe we break down even the unforeseen barriers. Now I am not saying that every response a child gives is correct, so as not to hurt their self esteem. There is a time for right and wrong answers. What I am suggesting is that we are more open minded and give our youth the opportunity to think creatively and problem solve through dialogue and /or visual imagery, self expression and interpretation. It’s time to teach our children to live with a voice of enthusiasm and passion. It’s time to teach our students to ‘dare to think out of the box’ and to not fear failure. It’s time take risks. It’s time to teach our youth to have the courage to think creatively.

As a young child, I always retreated to my bedroom to draw, paint or sculpt. I was not a great artist, but what I found in those quiet moments was a birth of self expression because my creation was my interpretation. It represented my thoughts, feelings and creativity and therefore my opinion was right and failure was not an option.

This approach throughout my life has enabled me to become a creative thinker during my 28 years of teaching. Now, I have the opportunity to instill a joy of exploration in my young learners and encourage them to embrace their own creative thinking too. Now it’s time for us to give them the inspirational tools. Let’s get started.

Posted on February 18, 2018 .

Props with a Purpose k4

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R.L. 2.1- Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

We always begin the year with asking questions (who, what, where, when, why and how?) and I start with a tactile experience. This ELA standard has been a foundational standard for my entire year and should be for every teacher.

Remember, every question needs a response; verbally or orally. It’s a great way to help students elaborate sentences and dig deeper when reading various topics. My kids asked questions all year long and I used this standard and props to help build sentences whenever possible; even to the point of ending lessons with a “teach-back” using our question cards in a whole group or collaboratively with partners. I laminated cards for regular use and copied several for collaborative groups/partners. We used the cards before, during, and after reading across all genres and subjects. Encourage your children to use these cards regularly as prompts to always ask questions and dig deeper.

Imagine using small question cards (who, what, where, when, why, and how) to match parts of a sentence. This allows children to determine whether they elaborated enough. Once they match sentence parts with the question cards for practice, each student will write the corresponding sentence for practice. It is visual and multi-sensory.

Find time every day to expose your students to writing and thinking about using question cards in various ways. Turn oral responses into written application and you will undoubtedly see improvement. I call this Props with a Purpose.  

Furthermore, I also created comprehension bookmarks with 6 sequential questions for them to easily answer and write retells; L.2.2– Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media; as well as recounting, writing narratives and discussion starters for small group collaboration and reading partners; just by asking questions- It’s more than the Common Core!

Posted on February 18, 2018 .