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Writing: Word Choice

Mood - Make 'Em Smile, Scared, and Everything In Between

 

Today's Snack: Later on, we're going to try to write in a scary mood, so let's get ready with some Ghoulish Punch!

Stir 2 cups of boiling water into 1 package (8-serving size) lime flavor Jell-O for 2 minutes, or until completely dissolved.

Stir in 2 cups of cold orange juice. Cool to room temperature.

To serve, pour gelatin mixture into a punch bowl. Add 1 liter of cold seltzer water and ice cubes.

Slightly soften 1 pint (2 cups) of orange sherbet, and scoop into the punch.

Add thin slices of 1 lime

 

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Supplies:

Photocopy the two writing selections, below, and

each student can use a No. 2 pencil to circle words

or . . . project onto a big screen or smartboard

 

One piece of lined writing paper and pencil

 

What a difference you can make when you select words that fit! You can create a whole new world, and especially, a whole new mood, just by choosing particular words that set the stage for the emotions you want your readers to feel.

 

Word choice should be deliberate. Imagine that the words you use in a piece of writing are like clothing. If the clothes you choose are too big, or too small, or the wrong color, or too formal, or too lightweight, they're not going to fit you, or fit the occasion. You'll look like a geek, or shiver with cold. That doesn't feel good!

 

It's the same way with writing. You have to match your word choices with your message. Choose your words from the huge "wardrobe" of the English language, and make those words "fit" what you're trying to say. Then they'll come alive!

 

A piece of writing has a certain "mood," or feeling or emotional tone. The words you choose and put together into sentences will be very different for a serious report for school, than the words you choose and put together if you write a letter to your best friend describing something fun. You can "paint a word picture" to show different moods.

 

Let's study two pieces of writing with two different moods. The first is a popular song lyric about a snowman that comes to life and plays around with kids, and the other is a poem about a famous battle in which cavalry riders (soldiers on horseback) rode into a huge ambush by mistake, but continued to fight bravely.

 

Two completely different situations, right? Let's see how different the word choices are. You can have an adult, or one or more students read these two aloud, while you listen and think about the mood that the words are creating.

 

Circle word choices that help create an overall mood for each piece of writing. What mood does each one set?

 

 

Frosty the Snowman

Song by Walter "Jack" Rollins and

Steve Nelson, first recorded in 1950

Frosty the Snowman
Was a jolly, happy soul
With a corncob pipe and a button nose

And two eyes made out of coal.

Frosty the Snowman
Is a fairy tale, they say.
He was made of snow
But the children know

How he came to life one day.

There must have been some magic

In that old silk hat they found

For when they placed it on his head

He began to dance around!


Frosty the Snowman

Was alive as he could be

And the children say

He could laugh and play

Just the same as you and me.

Frosty the Snowman
Knew the sun was hot that day.
So he said, "Let's run
And we'll have some fun
Now before I melt away."

Down to the village
With a broomstick in his hand
Running here and there all around the square
Saying, "Catch me if you can!"

He led them down the streets of town
Right to the traffic cop
And he only paused a moment when
He heard him holler, "Stop!"

Frosty the Snowman, had to hurry on his way.
But he waved goodbye, saying, "Don't you cry,
I'll be back again some day!"
Thumpety thump thump, thumpety thump thump,
Look at Frosty go!
Thumpety thump thump, thumpety thump thump,
Over the hills of snow!

 

 

 

 

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, commemorating a tragic

battle of 600 British cavalry accidentally sent in against 5,240

Russian troops armed with cannons in the Crimean War, 1854

 

 

Half a league, Half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the Valley of Death rode the six hundred.

"Forward the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!"

He said. Into the Valley of Death rode the 600.


"Forward the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew someone had blunder'd.
Theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do or die.

Into the Valley of Death rode the six hundred.

 

Cannon to the right of them, cannon to the left of them,

Cannon in front of them volley'd and thunder'd;

Storm'd at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death, into the mouth of Hell,

Rode the six hundred.

 

Flash'd all their sabers bare, flash'd as they turn'd in air
Sabr'ing the gunners there, charging an army,
While all the world wonder'd.

 

Plung'd in the battery-smoke right thro' the line they broke
Cossack and Russian reel'd from the saber-stroke,

Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not, not the six hundred.

Cannon to the right of them, cannon to the left of them,

Cannon behind them volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell, While horse and hero fell,

They that had fought so well came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell, all that was left of them,

Left of six hundred.


When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder'd.

 

Honor the charge they made!

Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

Now, on a separate sheet of lined paper, write a poem, paragraph or story, and set a mood that is SCARY . . . frightening . . . ominous . . . mysterious . . . dreadful. Circle your word choices that you think do the best job of establishing that mood.

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.AfterSchoolTreats.com Writing 2010

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