Descriptive writing and underwater Galapagos

Part of:

Google Expeditions
Lesson overview

In this lesson students will use Google Expeditions to develop their descriptive skills and use a range of techniques such as descriptive phrases, nouns, adjectives, similes, metaphors and sensory language.

Learning outcomes
  • Identify a range of descriptive techniques
  • Explore the ‘Underwater Galapagos’ Expedition for source material
  • Extend our ability to describe
  • Create a piece of descriptive writing

Expedition Prep Checklist

Download the Google Expeditions App on all devices and select the expedition Underwater Galapagos.

Explore the expedition and locate points of interest.

Review the content in the Lesson resources section to update your knowledge and develop some teaching ideas.

Lesson steps
  1. Introduction (10 mins)
    Students work in pairs and walk freely around the classroom for 1 minute (or perhaps the playground or another area of the school), and point and name everything that catches their attention.

    Guide students to repeat the exercise but this time one student asks and one answers the following questions: What do you see? What colour is it? What shape would you say it is? How would you describe its size? Does it have a smell? Does it make a noise? How does it feel?
    After each item, add the phrase ‘is like a…’, for example ‘The ceiling is like a cloudy sky’.

    Students complete the ‘How to describe’ resource on Student Sheet in the Lesson resources section.
  2. Expedition (20 mins)
    Students complete the expedition, during which they work in pairs and visit each scene. Student A identifies an item. Student B must then find what they are looking at and add to the description of it. Students should be challenged to go back and forth for as long as they can, adding in as much detail.
    Student A: I see a sea lion.
    Student B: I see a grey sea lion.
    Student A: I see a small grey sea lion.
    Student B: I see a small, grey sea lion, swimming swiftly.

    Guide students towards a particular style of description, e.g. How can you describe the scene to show your excitement? What descriptions would make the sea seem pleasant and relaxing to be in? How could the structure of your writing show the playfulness of the sea lions?
  3. Activity (30 mins)
    Pose the following questions to the class: What have you listed on your ‘How to describe’ resource? What will you choose to focus on in your writing? What three techniques will you ensure are in your work?

    Students write a descriptive paragraph about the expedition using the ‘How to describe’ resource as a prompt.

    Tailor ‘success criteria’ to the group’s ability; it may be more challenging for students to describe a single aspect of one of the scenes than describing the whole scene for example, or students might be asked to only describe the visual aspects of the scene and ignore the other senses.
  4. Extension
    Students choose another expedition and describe the scene.
    Students write a poem using the expedition as a stimulus. Groups design a display with drawings of the expedition labelled with their best descriptions, with the techniques also labelled, e.g. ‘The shimmering sea lion swims swiftly’ – alliteration.