How to describe things

This week for her homework, our younger daughter has to write a description of a family member using lots of different adjectives.  

This reminded me of something I've been wanting to do with our girls for a while, which is to help them get better at describing things, by increasing their vocabulary.

Have you ever wished your kids could describe things to you better?  The main example I can think of here is when they are unwell and you try to get more details of what is wrong.

 "My tummy hurts,"  is one we get sometimes, and it could be a case of nerves (butterflies in the tummy), or feeling nauseous, or wind.... Pain is definitely something I would like my kids to be able to describe better to me.  But to be better at describing things in general would be not just a help to me as a parent in understanding their needs, but it is an important skill for kids to learn.

In order to describe things well, having a rich bank of adjectives to choose from is vital.  So how can we help our kids learn and use lots of adjectives?

Well first and foremost they need the vocabulary to choose from, so brainstorming adjectives they know is a great place to start.  But to make it easier, you can give them categories or groups to put the words into.

So here are some examples:

Colour :         red, green, pink, silver...

Sound  :         noisy, quiet, whispering, deafening...
Shape  :         round, curved, straight, deep....
Appearance : beautiful, plain, ugly, fancy...
Size  :             large, tiny, tall, fat, enormous..

(If you need more ideas for categories or lists of adjectives there's a great page here.)

It is good to have these lists somewhere handy, so the kids can add to them as they think of and learn more words.

Then once they have a bank of words to use, you can play games with them to practise.

One game is to describe something using the adjectives and the other person has to guess what it is. You can choose a theme, such as 'animals'.

So for example :

This animal is large, it looks cute, but can be dangerous. It is very strong. It's furry and white.       

A polar bear.

Another game would be to pick and adjective, then you have to find something that this adjective describes.

For example - 'funny', and perhaps go and find a joke book.

I also found a neat game (read all about it adjectives game) on a BBC website for primary age kids to practice using adjectives. They can either read sentences and match the descriptions to the pictures, or add their own suitable adjectives to describe pictures! 

Are your kids good at describing things? Or do you have any other ideas for ways to practice using adjectives?

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