Sunday, November 12, 2017

Teaching Vivid Language with Texture and New Orleans

Vivid language is a tough concept. So, why not teach it through art? This lesson is appropriate for the art classroom or the language arts classroom.

vivid language descriptive writing

The Thing About New Orleans

I'm a little obsessed with all the artsy things in New Orleans. If you love art and/or are in arts education, you HAVE to go. There are so many things to see. On my most recent trip, I heard someone in a shop near the French Quarter say that New Orleans is one place where you can work and support yourself as an artist. I really hate it isn't that way everywhere, but...

One of the things I am most obsessed with is the texture everywhere, especially on the doors. I cannot stop myself from taking pic after pic. 

Bell Ringer 

Well, I'm getting ready to teach texture in my classroom. I use the first couple of minutes of class as a bell ringer. Students come in, sit down, and look at an image. They analyze it for an element of art. They do this silently (mostly), and I call on a "secret student" to share what they noticed regarding the element. We focus on the same element for several weeks. 

Add the Vivid Language

I am going to show them these photos that I took in NOLA as we talk about texture. I think I can really get some descriptive and vivid language out of them for this. Well, I know I can...and I don't mean the kind of vivid language you'd hear on Bourbon Street either! 

In the captions of these photos are some examples of vivid language. I think it is great to give kids a couple of examples. Then, let them come up with two or three different ones for each pic. This would be fun as a partner activity.

vivid language project for kids
This is as rough as a home-grown cucumber.

teaching vivid language
This is an old, dried-up paint palette. 

descriptive writing for kids
This is splintery like a rough piece of wood at Lowe's.

descriptive writing
It's shiny, and the bumps feel smooth.

descriptive writing
This is like the cracked skin of an ogre's face. 

descriptive writing
This is my skin when I forget to use moisturizer. 

She may look rough and worn, but she is smooth like an R&B singer.


Students would enjoy looking for their own textures to describe around the school. You could take a mini-field trip with the class and have them use their devices to photograph a texture. They could write the descriptive bit using vivid language. These could be printed and displayed in the hallway (see this post of hallway displays) or even put into a video to share digitally.

Don't have time to take a mini-field trip? I get it! 

  • What about letting two students at a time walk down the hallway together as part of a center? 
  • What about just having the students notice textures as they walk to lunch or are at recess? Or better yet, as they walk back and forth to art class?


Feel free to pull these pics up in your classroom to talk about vivid language and texture. 

Do you have other ideas for how we could use those images in our classrooms? Let me know!


Did you know that scented markers can be used in an adaptive art setting for students with sensory processing issues? Keep in mind that students have a range of sensory processing disorders. So, this is not a cure, but it can help with some students. Definitely worth a try!
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