Activity 1 — Describing the Real World

Teacher's Notes

Pick a room, any room, and spend 10 to 15 minutes observing it. It can be in school, in a candy store, or in your home. Try to be as descriptive as you can. In the coming assignments, you will work on different types of nonfiction writing, but in each case your ability to find the right words and the colorful details will be what makes your story come to life.

Write several paragraphs describing the room — the size and layout, the furniture and decorations, the people in it, etc. Use plenty of details so that the reader can close her eyes and picture the room. Your reader would like to hear the sounds (a radio playing, neighbors shouting), smell the odors (bacon cooking, garbage rotting) and, of course, see the sights. But don't just tell them there is a chair, or even a comfortable chair. Tell them where in the room the chair is, what color it is, what fabric it's made of, and what it feels like to sink into the chair.

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