Text-Type Writing Study: Description—Descriptive Labelling

An important part of descriptive writing is that of providing information. One way to do this is by adding descriptive labels to images. The labels may contain words, phrases, or sentences to provide a description of the image, for example, ‘I am planting a flower.’ goes along with a drawing of someone planting a flower in the garden. Students can apply their learning about what makes them special to show what they can do through both drawings and the descriptive labelling of those drawings.


Time: approximately 15 minutes (Can be combined with Pre–assessment)
Grouping: whole class
Materials: See What We Can Do!

  • We can let others know what makes us special, as each of us is special in some way.

    Explain to students that they’ve learned a great deal about what makes someone special, whether it be from an animal’s or person’s point of view
  • When we look at Mayumi’s page, how many drawings or pictures are labelled? Did she use words or sentences? Are they all on the same topic? When we look at these and read them, they each tell us that Mayumi is special because of her baking skills.

    Reread the See What We Can Do! scrapbook with the students, stopping to discuss what each child has included on the page to show their abilities or special interests. Pay attention to the images on a page, how the labels tell us what is in those images, and whether the labels are words, phrases, or sentences
  • What is this asking us? How do you think the writers might want us to show what we can do? How do you think we could show what we can do?

    When rereading, stop at the last page and focus on the question that is raised: What can you do?

2. PRE-ASSESSMENT (Optional)

Time: approximately 20 minutes (Can be combined with Immersion into the Text Type)
Grouping: individuals and partners
Materials: chart paper and markers

  • Remind students that they have seen what some children can do and how this makes each one special. Discuss how the children showed what they could do. For example, Mayumi included pictures of herself baking and some drawings. She also used labels to describe her pictures and drawings:
    • baking
    • baking with my brother
    • my apple muffins
    • Yummy!

Each of you is good at doing something in this classroom. Think of one of the things that you like to do here in the classroom.

  • Ask students to think of something they are good at here in the classroom. To help them narrow the topic, brainstorm three or four things that are done daily in the classroom/school (reading books, drawing at the table, playing in the sandbox or store, playing in the gym or yard).
  • As students provide suggestions, list them on the board. Ask students to choose one thing that they like doing in the classroom and draw it. Encourage them to label their drawings.

Supporting Writers: Give students an opportunity to share their thinking with a partner before recording their thoughts. You can circulate through the classroom and scribe for students what they would like printed on their drafts.

Extending Writers: Encourage students to record their label in a sentence. They might also record more than one label if they have more ideas.

  • If you choose, assess each student’s response using the Assessment Rubric for Descriptive Labelling to identify levels of key skills and understanding. Look for common needs among students to help plan future instructions and demonstrations to strengthen students’ existing knowledge.


Time: three sessions of approximately 20 minutes each
Grouping: whole class
Materials: chart paper and markers

Choose a Topic
  • Focus on a shared experience as a topic for writing, using a photograph of a class event such as ‘Teddy Bear Day.’
    Note: If you don’t have a suitable photo, you might have students create individual pictures of themselves with their teddy bears. These pictures could be combined to create a collage as the basis for the writing.
Setting a Purpose for Writing
  • Tell students that you will all work together to create a label to describe this special class event.


  • Ask students to meet with a partner or small group and come up with one idea to describe what was special about this event.
  • Share the ideas as a class, e.g., ‘We had a bear’s picnic.’ ‘We sorted our bears by colours.’ ‘We read stories to our bears.’

Supporting Writers: You may need to provide a supportive structure for some students, e.g., ‘On Teddy Bear Day we …’ and offer prompts such as, ‘What did we do with our bears on Teddy Bear Day?’

Extending Writers: Some students may have several ideas. Tell them they can write several when they write their own ideas about what they are good at, but now they should choose one idea so that many students can share their ideas about the event.


Write the Label

We want to say, ‘We had fun with our bears on Teddy Bear Day.’ Help me write ‘We.’ What letter do you hear at the beginning? You write the ‘W.’ Where will you start writing?

  • With students, choose the best idea and scribe it on chart paper. Share the pen with them occasionally and weave in prompts for writing concepts. Vary your prompts to meet the range of writing development demonstrated in your classroom.

Supporting Writers: Ask students needing support to demonstrate concepts such as where to start writing and predicting a letter from the sound at the beginning of a word.

Extending Writers: Writers ready for extension may be able to share the pen and write down a word or phrase, and engage in movement to the next line.

  • Weave in comments about descriptive labelling. Prompts that may help include:
    • What is a good descriptive word that tells how we were feeling?
    • What kind of punctuation mark expresses how we felt?
    • Should we have a word or a sentence for this drawing? Which would be clearer for our reader?
    • Should we place the label on the drawing or beside it? Where would it help the reader best?


  • Reread the labels with the students.

Extending Writers: Revisions, beyond rereading the modelled/shared draft, are not expectations for most kindergarten students. However, you may decide to work with more advanced writers in a small group and encourage them to write more descriptive labels.

Consider the following revision concepts for this group:

    • adding ideas to the label
    • adding more labels
    • changing words, e.g., Are there better words we could use to describe what is happening here?
Show students how to make changes and model your own thought processes as you make changes (e.g., ‘I’ll put a line through this word that we can change to make it more descriptive and write the new word above the crossed out one.’).


Extending Writers: Editing is not an expectation for most kindergarten students. If you decide a few students need extending into editing, consider working on simple editing conventions.

Check the use of capital letters and periods in sentences on the labels. Look for capital letters at the beginnings of sentences and periods at the ends. Are there other punctuation marks that could be used? Ask students to help you check these punctuation conventions in the writing (e.g., ‘Find the first word in your sentence. Now look for the first letter in that word. Does it have a big [capital] letter?’)


Make a Final Copy
  • Write a final version of the descriptive label and post it with the photograph.
Reflect on the Label
  • Take time to reflect on the label. Think about what made the event a special one for the class. Does the label do a good job of describing this event?


Time: multiple sessions for drawing and painting life-size pictures; one session of approximately 20 minutes to add labels
Grouping: whole group and individuals
Materials: large roll of craft paper (cut into sections), pencils, paint supplies


Create the Pictures
  • Tell students that they will be making life-size pictures of themselves. Students can work in pairs with several different pairs creating their life-size pictures each day (depending on space available). Place paper sections on the floor and anchor each corner. One student lays on his/her back with arms and legs separated while the second student traces around the figure. (Help from a supporting adult may be a good idea.) The pairs then switch roles.
  • What are you wearing? What colour will you paint your hair?

    Invite students to add any details they wish with their pencils and then paint their own figures. You might offer prompts.
  • I might include a label that says, …I love to garden… What will you write?

    Once the figures are thoroughly dry, they can be cut out. Provide strips of light-coloured paper for students to write their labels. Ask students to think of one thing about themselves that is special that they could write on their label. Provide an example.


Write the Label
  • Ask students to write down their idea for the label. Circulate, offering support. Attach the labels directly to the life-size pictures or connect the labels to the pictures with brightly coloured yarn strings when hung.

Supporting Writers: Form a small guided–writing group for students needing extra support. Remind students that they can write letters or try words. If students need even more support, you may consider scribing their ideas with frequent rereadings to see if they have clarified the special thing about themselves. Alternatively, you could provide a sentence starter, e.g., ‘I can…’ Have the student tell you what is special about himself or herself.

Extending Writers: Encourage these writers to add additional labels in either phrase or sentence form. Help them revise their sentences, and to edit by checking beginning and end punctuation in sentences. Remind them about how you revised and edited during the whole class Modelled/Shared Writing session, if you did so.


Time: approximately 15 minutes
Grouping: small groups

  • Hang the portrait gallery and labels in the classroom and hallway where you have plenty of space.
  • Reread the labels with the students and encourage them to read their labels to classmates and visitors to the classroom.


Time: 10 minutes if done as a class, or a few minutes per child if done in centres (Suggest self–evaluations be done during centre time when you can circulate and scribe for individuals.)
Grouping: whole class and individuals
Materials: Self-Assessment BLM and Assessment BLM

Reflection and Self-Evaluation
  • Ask students to reflect on their writing using the Self–Assessment: Descriptive Labelling BLM. For example, Did I draw a picture? Did I write a label? What did I do well?
  • Asking for oral responses may be the best option. You may decide to choose a few students to fill in the BLM for each writing study as you will likely have to read it aloud and scribe the student’s response. You may also decide to ask just one question, e.g., ‘What did I do well?’
  • Using the Assessment Rubric for Descriptive Labelling document each student’s growth in writing labels for images, noting the skills and understandings that he or she is demonstrating. If you had students write a Pre–assessment piece, compare it with the student’s final label to assist you in noting areas of growth.