Snapshot Writing Lesson – Being Descriptive by Appealing to the Senses


In this lesson, students learn to become more descriptive in their writing by using figurative language and commas to develop a highly visible picture in their readers’ heads. They use similes (and metaphors) to associate an image with a meaning and play on the senses to engage their readers in what they have written.
Please feel free to add any modifications by leaving a comment below.

Australian Curriculum Links:

  • Understand the uses of commas to separate clauses (ACELA1521)
  • Investigate how vocabulary choices, including evaluative language can express shades of meaning, feeling and opinion (ACELA1525)
  • Experiment with text structures and language features and their effects in creating literary texts, for example, using imagery, sentence variation, metaphor and word choice (ACELT1800)
  • Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, choosing and experimenting with text structures, language features, images and digital resources appropriate to purpose and audience (ACELY1714)


  1. Explain to the students that today, that as authors, we are going to look at painting a clear picture in our reader’s head.
  2. Discuss how do we paint clear pictures in our reader’s heads?
  3. Explain that we can used adjectives (descriptive words) but also that we can create an even clearer picture by adding an association to our adjective (e.g. The light was as bright as the sun) and explain that this is what we call a simile.
  4. List the following on the board and ask the students to think of some statements (similes) for them:
    • Kettle (was whistling like a steam train)
    • Ice (was as cold as an Arctic Winter)
    • Eyes (were as blue as the ocean)
    • You get the idea, just keep going.
  5. Now explain to the students that we can create an amazing snapshot (or photo) of where we’re at by using these description in our writing by trying to connect our readers to their senses.
  6. Discuss what are the senses and list them down.
  7. Pull up a photograph of the beach and model how to write a snapshot.

“I see the sand dancing in the wind like ballerinas, the water reflecting light from the sun like a thousand diamonds and the soft, white clouds floating above my head as if they’re fairy floss.

I hear the seagulls fighting over a chip like two dogs over a bone, the waves crashing down as if they are thunder themselves and the joy of happiness from children all around me playing their games.

I feel the sun warming my skin like an electric blanket… (you get the picture)

I think to myself…

I wonder…”


  1. Now allow the students to select their own images to create a snapshot of.
  2. Kids can select images from the web, or simply create a snapshot from what they have been doing lately
  3. Remind your students that this is not a narrative, it should be in present tense.


  1. Using an iPad or some other recording device, take a few photos of your students’ work.
  2. Display these samples one after the other on your IWB (if you have one)
  3. For each sample, ask your class to provide:
  • 3 Things that they feel the student has done well. (can link this back to your intention)
  • 2 Things that the student can improve on.

(Love this part as the kids are so honest with their feedback)



  • Peer assessments
  • Anecdotal note taking
  • Work samples in books


  • A variety of pictures (including one of the beach). Google images “amazing scenery” works well.
  • Writing books
  • Pencils/pens
  • iPad or other video/image capturing device



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