Creating a Descriptive Setting

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The setting in a story can determine many things. It is not simply the time and place that the story takes place in. The setting also determines the mood and atmosphere in the story, affecting the characters and the plot. For example, if the plot is a tragic one, the setting might be dark and gloomy or if the character is an optimistic one, then he or she might perceive the world to be bright and full of vivid colours.

Visualising a Setting
To help children envision and visualise a particular setting better, they could be tasked to create a 3-dimensional setting using simple materials like an empty tissue box and some plasticine, as seen in the photo above. Alternatively, they could also sketch the setting on a piece of drawing paper. By using these methods, they are likely to include different elements of the setting that they may not have thought about if they were just asked to write about it.

Describing the setting using the five senses
At Artistic Strategies Academy, we believe in authentic learning. Therefore, in order to describe a setting well, we would want our students to immerse themselves in a particular setting first before describing it in writing.

We have organised several field trips for our students, be it around the neighbourhood or to places like the National Gallery (see picture above). We encourage them to take photos and videos that they can analyse after the field trip.

As they analyse their photos and videos, they are asked to respond to questions like these:

1. What does the place look like? Describe the colours and shapes that you see.
2. What are some of the special things that can be found in this place?
3. What would these things feel like if you could touch them?
4. What sounds did you hear in the place? Where are these sounds coming from?
5. What smells are there in the place? Where are these smells coming from?
6. How does this place make you feel?

These guiding questions lead to fuller descriptions of a setting, zooming in on special details that include the emotions associated with the place.

Watch this video tutorial to see how you could facilitate a session with your child on the creation of a setting.

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