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Descriptive Writing With Virginia Hamilton: A Writing With Writers Activity

Hosted by the late Newbery Medal-winning author, this four-step writing workshop helps students develop powerfully descriptive pieces.


3–5, 6–8, 9–12

Activity Type

  • Writing Activities

Moments like a special vacation or birthday party can offer great opportunities for descriptive writing. In the “Descriptive Writing with Virginia Hamilton” activity (grades 4–12), students have the unique opportunity to learn from one of America's most honored writers of children’s books. Newberry Medal-winning author Virginia Hamilton provides students with sample writings, tips, strategies, and challenges to help them develop their own descriptive writing.


The four-step workshop includes:


Step 1: My South Africa Journal

The author shares entries from a journal she kept during a two-week trip to South Africa, for students to use as a model.

Step 2: Brainstorming

Virginia Hamilton offers eight writing tips, including: write a little each day, try to write at the same time every day, carry a notebook with you at all times, and write simply.

Step 3: Write Your Own Description

These exercises sharpen students’ powers of observation, and help them focus on details and understand themselves through their writing.

Step 4: Publish Online

Once students have completed their final drafts, they can submit their final products to for publishing!


For more inspiration, students can browse and read other students’ Descriptive Writings.


Learning Objectives

In the course of participating in the "Descriptive Writing with Virginia Hamilton" activity, students will:

  • Follow the writing process to create original writing.
  • Use web technology to post original writing online.
  • Understand how to review and revise their own writing.
  • Learn to think critically and objectively about their reading.
  • Learn to review and revise their own writing.
  • Produce written work to show evidence of knowledge of the different genres.

Susan Cheyney

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