When Debbie and I taught junior high and high school writing classes, we made sure that part of each class was spent in play. No one is too old for games! Besides, pre-writing activities help to prime the writing pump and get those creative juices bubbling! So we played word games, sentence-building games, and games that built vocabulary or taught writing skills.
Not all writing games require pencil and paper. One of our favorites is “What’s in the Bag?” It’s a guessing game that fits many levels of sophistication, so it’s adaptable to all ages, and it’s great for reinforcing the concept of concrete or descriptive writing. Here’s how to play:
Gather together several paper lunch bags, each containing a common object. Vary the textures and shapes of the objects.
- Give your student one of the paper bags and have her put her hand inside it.
- The student must describe the object by its properties, not its function. So tell her: “Feel the object and describe it using adjectives or other phrases to describe its characteristics. Don’t tell me where to find it or how to use it.” (If the object is a fork, the student might say, “It’s hard, cold, made of metal, sharp, one end has four prongs, it’s long and thin,” etc. She may NOT say, “You eat with it, you stab food with it, it’s in the silverware drawer,” etc.)
- You and your other kids can take turns trying to guess the object.
- Since students of all ages can play this game, involve your whole family or class. They’ll enjoy taking turns guessing and describing.
Hints and Tips
- If you only have one student, it’s harder to play along if you already know what’s in the bags. So ask your spouse to put some bags together the night before so that you’ll be surprised along with your child.
- If your child is young or unable to articulate very well, you can help him get started by showing him 10-15 household objects such as a wire whisk, grater, can, roll of tape, small stuffed animal, camera, comb, or toothbrush and helping him think of descriptive terms for each one. The next day, use some of these items in the feely bags. Now that he is familiar with descriptive words for each item, it will be easier for him to play the game.
Copyright © 2008 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.