Even the most limited class trip can be the source of the next three assignments. Walk outside the school and have the children have pencil and paper in hand so that they can write a description of the school building, its materials, its parts and their relative positions, its details and the effect of the whole. As always they should start with a list of words or phrases and then when inside again, they can organize their notes and structure them for a descriptive essay in the third person.
On a rainy day, the children might describe an interior space of the school such as the boiler room, the kitchen, the auditorium, or specialty classroom .
The next challenge would be to describe a person that is in the school that they do not know so that it remains a physical description. The accompanying homework assignment should be to describe someone who works in the community and helps it function. A discussion about how this person may be typical or atypical of his or her position or occupation would probably lead into numerous other topics that would interest the students .
The most difficult environment to describe is an exterior space such as a park, a street or a another part of the city. To get your students doing this kind of thing, have them read descriptions of cities. Kazin’s “A Walker in the City” is largely descriptions of city scenes and experiences. Toni Morrison’s books, including one of her latest, “Jazz” has wonderful descriptions of New York, Harlem and some people who live there. Remember to use magazine and newspaper articles for clear and direct descriptions of city places and events.