Using Words to Create Pictures

Beginning writers use drawings and pictures to tell their stories. Over time, they introduce more words and details. Show your child how to use word pictures – words that create pictures in the reader’s mind, also known as descriptive words. Using these, a story comes to life, is easier to understand and more interesting to read.

These ideas will help you get started: 

  • When you read with your child, talk about the little things the writer has used to make the story more interesting. Point out words that tell the reader more about a character, where the story is happening or when (for example: a “shy” elephant, a “small” town).
  • Ask your child to tell a story using drawings and words. Ask how the drawings relate to the words they have written. If the story does not match the pictures, ask about the pictures to get them to think about details. Help your child add these details to the story.
  • Encourage the use of descriptive words in your child’s writing by asking them to pretend they are looking at a picture. Ask about what they see, hear, touch, taste, smell and feel. What colour is the thing they are writing about? What is their main character wearing? What is the weather like?

Build Vocabulary

Make it easier for your child to develop writing skills by reading together regularly. This is one of the best ways to teach them new words and ideas, which they can use in their writing:

  • Help your child “label” details in their drawings. This will give them words to use in their writing. For example, if they have drawn a picture of a trip to a farm, help them label the buildings, people and animals. Also label any actions, like milking the cows, feeding the chickens or driving the truck.
  • Use magnetic letters or words on the fridge (or cut words out of newspapers and magazines) to find different ways of saying words that are used too often or are not clear (such as “went” or “nice”). Ask your child to find words that give more detail.
  • Reread a familiar story together and help your child figure out where descriptive words could fit.  For example: “The dog played with the kitten” could become “The big dog played with the grey kitten.”
  • Ask your child to write a few sentences or a short story about a subject. Before they begin, take time to brainstorm some words related to the subject. Encourage them to use these words in their writing. For example, the topic “petting zoo” might make your child think of words like “goat,” “rabbit,” “baby,” “playing,” “barn,” “sleeping,” “eating,” “smelly,” “soft” and “hairy.”