Word choice improves persuasive writing! When kids use specialized vocabulary, their writing becomes more credible. How can your students ramp up their persuasive power? Ask them to develop specialized word banks. Before writing, gather specific nouns and active verbs relating to the topic.
To illustrate the importance of specific nouns, try this visualization exercise with your students.
- Everyone, close your eyes.
- You will visualize each word I say.
- Ready? Here goes – man. [Pause for a few seconds to let them imagine a complete picture.]
- Now visualize a more specific noun – announcer. [Pause again.]
- How did your first and second images differ? [Discuss.]
- Close your eyes once more. Visualize a third, and even more specific noun – ringmaster. [Pause while they build images in their minds.]
- How did this third picture differ from the first and second?
- Did any additional people, places, or things pop into your mind when you visualized the ringmaster? Why?
- How about other sensory details? What sounds, scents, tastes, and/or feelings are associated with the ringmaster?
- Why is it important to use specific nouns when writing?
Verbs must be active, related to the topic, and specific. To keep them active and related, have kids generate a word bank (like the one below). Choosing a specific term helps the audience experience exactly what you mean. To illustrate this, try another exercise:
- How many of you have ever seen a horse run?
- Close your eyes and visualize a horse running through a field. [Again, pause each time you ask them to envision something.]
- There it is. An image for this sentence: The horse ran through the field.
- Let’s modify that image a bit. Whenever I change the word ran, change the video in your head to match it. The horse __________ through the field.
Discuss each image. Focus on speed, as well as what can be inferred. For example, “tore” may indicate that the horse was spooked, and “fled” signals that it is being chased. Encourage kids to use a thesaurus to find just the right connotation for each action in their paragraphs.
More Word Choice Options
Yes, kids can add adjectives and adverbs too. However, using the right nouns and verbs makes all the difference. Remember to use specific nouns and verbs that pinpoint the action.
Persuasive Writing Series
Seven steps help kids perfect persuasive paragraphs: structure, word choice, elaboration, sentence variety, transitions, beginnings and endings. Learn more about the process in these blog posts:
Looking for related instructional materials? Check out the circus-themed video, anchor charts, modeling, and student sheets in my Teachers pay Teachers store.