This exercise uses colours and objects as descriptive writing prompts. It encourages students to closely observe using all their senses and to experiment with bold imagery alongside subtle details.
Prep and resources
You’ll need a bunch of satsumas for this icebreaker exercise!
Have the group to do a ‘word splurge’ exercise, exploring the colour red. Suggest different shades (perhaps using ambitious vocabulary e.g. magenta, vermillion, burgundy), connotations (which abstract nouns come to mind e.g. danger, passion, anger), or associations (e.g. Red Riding Hood, or Dorothy’s shoes in The Wizard of Oz).
Next, give each student a satsuma, or similar fruit. They will also need a pen and paper for this part…
Firstly, ask them only to look at the fruit, without touching it. After a few moments, ask them to handle it and slowly peel the fruit. Presently, encourage them to smell it. Finally, invite them to eat a piece. At each stage of this process, ask students to jot down words and imagery associated with each of the senses: sight, touch, smell and taste.
This exercise is an opportunity to encourage boldness of imagery (the skin and pith are particularly good for this) and close observation skills (e.g. each fruit may be a slightly different shade of orange).
Exercise: colour as prompt
Share the following piece with students, which was produced collaboratively by a First Story group at Sirius West Academy.
‘What Am I?’ I have citrus scents and lots of dents like a puckered pair of lips I’m a mini pumpkin mated with a golf ball, my pith like a cobweb wall. My open pores are speckles, scattered like so many freckles on skin that peels like Velcro.
Using any colour as a writing prompt, ask students to start a new piece of writing, in any form they prefer. Urge that it should appeal to the five senses. The focus could be on a fruit, but equally on an item of clothing, or any object of significance e.g. a favourite toy.
Invite students to read their pieces aloud. Urge the group to pick out lines or observations that they particularly liked. Why do they like those lines? Do any lines particularly communicate the five senses? How?
Work produced in this exercise could be collated to create a new group piece of writing — a chance to practice editing and collaboration skills.