Show! Don't Tell!

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Language Arts, Writing, Writing Process

Grade 5- 8


Students use strong, colorful action verbs instead of overused, dull verbs to make writing more detailed and interesting.
Students use original and vivid adjectives instead of common, boring adjectives to make writing more exciting and colorful.


Introduce the activity by posting and introducing the "Characteristics of Elaborated Paragraphs" and defining "elaboration."
Characteristics of Elaborated Paragraphs

  1. The writer clearly states the main idea in the topic sentence.
  2. The writer supports the main idea with at least three examples.
  3. Sentences are related and connected.
  4. The writer uses vivid adjectives, strong verbs, and exact nouns.
  5. The writer uses an anecdote with a beginning, middle, and end.
  6. The paragraph includes quotes, dialogue, sensory images, similes, facts, and statistics that support the main idea.
  7. The concluding sentence restates the main idea and brings the paragraph to a definite close.
  8. The writer uses age-appropriate vocabulary.
  9. The sentence structure is varied.
  10. The paragraph contains correct spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation.
  11. Practice with strong verbs, vivid adjectives, exact nouns, expanding sentences and "Show! Don't tell!" sentences with the activity sheets.


  • Show! Don't Tell! Activity sheets
  • writing materials

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