In fourth grade, students need to start writing with more and more vivid sentences, and this can seem very challenging at first. Here is a game designed to help your child focus on those details that bring an object alive in words on the page. You and your child can play it together on a quiet afternoon; or you can invite a few friends or family members to make it festive. In either case, enjoy the chance to explore the power of words to convey a colorful, interesting world around us.
Begin by telling your child that you’re going to play a game called Guess What? Ask your child to pick any room in the house to play the game.
Each person in the game will secretly focus on one object in the room without letting the other person know what it is.
Each player must write as many sentences as possible describing the object in 30 seconds. (Use a timer to make it more exciting). The more descriptive the writing, the better. For Round 1, a description must use at least three adjectives. In future rounds, consider other requirements as well, such as one metaphor or one simile. And if you've got a really enthusiastic set of writers, you can also instruct everyone to describe an object from a particular point of view, such as the eyes of a hypothetical ant crawling around the room!
Players then switch clipboards, read each other’s descriptions and try to guess what object is being described.
Play this game a few rounds, and each round increase the amount of time each player writes about the object. So, if the first round is 30 seconds, make the second round one minute, the third round one and a half minutes, and so on.
This game is usually good for plenty of laughs, and it's fun to save the best answers as examples for future rounds of the game. But there's also a serious purpose behind the silliness: fourth graders need to be able to write longer and longer pieces in which they can manage different kinds of sentences and word strategies. This kind of happy, supportive, experimental play is just where those great literary habits can get their start. So get ready to describe away!
Vanessa Genova DeSantis has been teaching for fourteen years in public and private school settings in grades 4-8. She's also an educational freelance writer as well as a private tutor for elementary, middle and high school students.