Show! Don't Tell!

Fifth grade writing is a bear!  It generally has not been a focus previously and we struggle all year to get our kids excited about writing!  Show, Don't Tell is always something that our kids have a hard time with in the beginning, but then just excel once they get the hang of it.  Last year, I found a lesson online added some different images from google images, put them in a word document and wrote one "telling" sentence.  The kids paired up to turn those "telling" sentences into "showing" paragraphs.  They wrote some really great paragraphs this year!  Check out these two examples (these are not edited by me, this is their original work):

Picture 1: 
Telling sentence:  The girls were shopping.
Showing:  I walked in the store with happiness and excitement, thinking of all the things I was going to buy today.  I was so fascinated by all the cute designer pumps and the beautiful expensive dresses.  I couldn't wait to get my hands on the latest designer purse that hadn't even come out yet.  It has a nice black strap with leopard print and a splash of red on it.  It is so unique.  This is my favorite forever store!

Picture 2: 
Telling sentence:  They danced.
Showing:  Our faces were sweating as we glanced across the stage trying to impress the judges.  I can see the judges smiling and people clapping after my first dance.  As I went home I thought about the second day of the competition.  I can't wait until the judges see my next dance.  I stepped on the stage and got ready for my brand new dance.  We twisted and twirled.  We did everything we could to impress the judges.  When we were finished we saw a faint smirk on the judges.  Then we finally heard..."You're going to Hollywood!" 

The students really enjoyed this activity and really showed what was in the pictures!  Try this works....and it's fun!  **You could also have your students bring in pictures and do the activity from his/her own pictures, or you bring in pictures from your childhood, your children, your family gatherings, etc. 

Write on.


  1. Great idea to get kids to really expand their writing. Thanks for sharing. I have some ideas for some pictures to motivate my friends.

  2. Awesome idea! I know our 5th grade teachers struggle with the same problem, and having been a 4th grade teacher for 5 years, I know we were guilty of letting writing slide all too often. I'll have to pass this along!

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late

  3. Just became your newest follower! I was stalking your blog (shameless!) and I saw your ZAP! post. I love that game, but I had never heard of it being played using cards! I love!! I am definitely going to adopt that for the next test review that we have as a class. Thanks for sharing your awesome ideas!
    The Science Life

  4. Mimi-

    I love this idea. I read your post last night and tried it today with my fifth graders. It was so exciting to see what they produced. Thank you. By anychance do you have some exciting ideas for teaching Main Idea? :-)


  5. Great idea! Looking forward to trying this in class.

  6. What an awesome idea! I will definitely use that for paragraph writing!

  7. You have such amazing ideas! Would you be willing to share this file?