I am going to begin by saying that teaching writing is a challenge in our homeschool. It is banging-my-head-on-the-table-with-frustration challenging! I have two reluctant writers and one who seems to have been able to write complete, thoughtful, and expressive sentences since day one. Over the years, we have made progress and tried many writing activities. We enjoyed "monster match" the most, and I thought I would share the concept.
I started by reading the book Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley and had the kids draw the monster that was described in the book. It’s a great warm-up, and it gave them a feel for the concept. The remaining activities we worked on for several days. The kids drew and colored their own monsters. They then brainstormed and wrote down descriptive words they wanted to use to describe their monster. Creativity was the goal, so if a chosen adjective seemed "blah" they turned to the thesaurus for a little help. Next, they wrote the best descriptive paragraph about their monster and read it to us while we attempted to draw their monster. It was fun to see how each of them interpreted the writer’s monster. This process was helpful to the writer to see how they could improve their description to be more specific and detailed if needed.
We have practiced descriptive writing about a location as well. Our beginning inspiration came from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Dahl does an amazing job describing Willy Wonka and everything in his factory. The kids drew what Dahl was describing and then went through the same monster match steps in creating and writing about their place.
I wish I could say this solved all of our lackluster writing problems. It didn’t, but it did help, and the exercises made writing not seem like a boring school thing.