Describe, Draw, Write! Oral Language Writing Game (freebie!)

Happy Monday, friends!   I get to spend the day hanging out with new friends at the Ohio K-3 Literacy Conference! It’s my very first time presenting for SDE and let’s just say…. I’m a little super nervous! If you’ve followed me on my blog or on Instagram for awhile, you know oral language development is something I have become SO passionate about, so I’m really excited to get to share tons of ideas and activities with teachers today! I hope I can effectively share the value of explicit oral language activities in the classroom and how it has improved my students as writers. 🙂

I also hope…
1) I don’t forget what to say
2) I don’t throw up from being so nervous
3) my students are listening to directions for my sub, so they don’t cause her to want to pick up a big bottle of red wine by the end of the day.
4) our Elf on the Shelf did not fall from the whiteboard while I am away, which would ultimately cause my kids to go wild, and without doubt, cause the sub to want to pick up TWO big bottles of red wine by the end of the day.

Here’s a picture of my slideshow that was set up in my living room a few nights ago!
Can you spot Weston in the background thinking, “Why is my mommy talking to a wall?!?”
Here is a picture of what my SUPER SWEET husband did for me the other night! He labeled all of my technology so that I could hook everything up on my own. Awwwwww!

My presentation can only be 75 minutes long and well…if you know me – you know I LOVE to talk to teachers!! It was so hard to fit everything in, so I decided to share an activity on my blog for all of the participants and for everyone at home! 🙂 Here we go!

I’m calling this activity: Describe, Draw, Write! This is a partner game, but you could certainly model it in a whole class activity, too. It’s a great idea to talk about adjectives and describing words prior to this activity, because you can use this game to really encourage descriptive language!

Here’s how you play:
Partner A is the describer and Partner B is the illustrator.  Partner A holds a picture in his hand and does NOT show it to his partner. He must describe everything he can about the picture using COMPLETE SENTENCES.  Partner B can ask any questions she wants to try to find out more about the picture.  As Partner A is describing the photograph, Partner B illustrates and draws the picture, trying to get as close as she can to what the picture might actually look like. When the time is up (The time is up when the queen or king of the classroom – aka YOU – says “Time Up!”), Partner A shows the picture to the illustrator.
Then, the kids switch roles with a NEW picture to describe and draw. 

Get ready for laughter and squeals – they LOVE to see how their illustration compares to the real photograph!! This activity has been a HUGE hit in my classroom and it has really developed conversation between my students, as well as questioning skills and descriptive language. It’s also eye-opening to identify the students who need more practice asking specific questions and understanding your students’ descriptive vocabulary.

After the students have played both the “illustrator” and the “describer” role, they glue their real photographs beside their drawing.  Now, students head back to their desks and it is time to WRITE about their picture!  I had my students write informative pieces about their picture, since that is our focus this quarter. However, you could have them write descriptive pieces, narratives – the possibilities are endless!!  The students LOVE to go back and write about their picture because they feel a true sense of ownership to the photo after being engaged in the partner activity.

Want to try it out in your own classroom?!
Click HERE for enough pictures to do this activity three times with your class!
I’ve also included two different versions of the writing template that I used with this oral language and writing game.

I hope you enjoy this oral language and writing activity!
If you came to my session today, THANK YOU sooo much!!! I truly, truly appreciate you!!

Have a wonderful week!  

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  1. This is a perfect wrap-up activity for the Animals in Winter unit I just started this week and will continue through January! My second graders love to draw and are going to have a grand time! What a wonderful way to encourage both oral language and written expression skills! Thanks for sharing! I am sure that your presentation was fabulous!
    Stories and Songs in Second

  2. Thanks for sharing! I would have loved to go to your presentation. I recently did an oral language activity somewhat similar to this. Students were paired up. One student was a paper snowflake "creator". The other student was the "watcher/describer". As the creator did each step, the describer had to explain what he/she did in complete sentences using specific language. It was all my co-teacher's idea! I can't take credit. I will definitely be using this activity soon. Thanks again!
    Laughter and Consistency

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