Smiley Face Tricks are a great way to get students to think and write more creatively. Try these examples and exercises for enhanced writing.
The eight "Smiley Face Tricks" are from Ready-to-Use English Workshop Activities for Grades 6-12: 180 Daily Lessons Integrating Literature, Writing & Grammar Skills by Mary Ellen Ledbetter; Copyright (c) 2002 by M.E. Ledbetter; Reprinted with permission of Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Imprint.
1. MAGIC 3—Giving three examples in a series is pleasing to the ear and adds support to a point being made. Using modifiers before each item in the series can emphasize the effect.
A. "She blinked her blue-green eyes, chewed on a lacquered nail and frowned at the interviewer.”
B. "I'm afraid to jump," said one chicken.
"Oh, " said the others.
"What if we can't jump that far?"
"What if we fall in a ditch?"
"What if we get sucked into the mud?"
The chickens tutted, putted, and flutted. They butted into themselves and each other until... (Helakoski)
Exercise: Write a paragraph about a farm animal using the Magic Three to describe the animal's actions.
2. FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE- Comparisons such as similes, metaphors and personifications—can bring interest, humor and connection for the reader.
"When the teacher asks us all to hold hands and Wyatt reaches for mine, this jolt of electricity floods out of his fingers and ricochets through my whole body like I'm this human pinball machine and Wyatt's the ball."
Make Your Own Similes and metaphors
That girl was as skinny as________________________.
The chickens were as nervous as__________________.
Grandma's hug was as warm as__________________.
The librarian was wound as tightly as_______________.
He was as skittish as___________________________.
Her stomach growled like________________________.
The howl ripped through the air like a______________.
The breeze from the window was like_______________.
Fear crawled over him like_______________________.
Practice Personification: Personify extreme Hot or Cold. Write about what the heat or the cold does to you. Try doing so without using the words hot or cold.
3. SPECIFIC DETAILS FOR EFFECT—Using specific details that invoke the senses help the reader imagine the place or person being described more clearly.
“The smell rushed at me as soon as I stepped inside. The hallway had that mama-don't-cook-nothin-without-onions smell. It lingered on top of musty cigarette smoke, the kind that never quite comes out of the carpet, no matter how long ago the smoker left. My arms rippled with goose bumps. I'd been here before."
Exercise: Describe a place in a barnyard or in a city you have seen. Use specific details and appeal to at least 3 of the 5 senses as you describe the scene.
4. REPETITION FOR EFFECT—repeating words or phrases can emphasize a point.
"I’m going away from this place. Away from my disapproving mother, away from my groping brother and away from this infernal heat.” (Leslie)
Excercise: Write a paragraph about your typical school-day morning. Use repetition to emphasize a particular thought or idea.
5. EXPANDED MOMENT—Slowing down to expand a moment, rather than rushing through it, can stretch out tension and keep your reader hanging on to every word.
“Their chicken ears heard a noise in back of the cave, and they grew very quiet.
Four dazed chickens listened to a long, low growl. "I'm afraid of growls," said one chicken.
"Ohh, said the others. "Me too. Me three. Me four. What if it's a big animal? What if it's a big, hairy animal? What if it's a big, hairy, chicken chomping animal?
Something crawled from the back of the cave. It was big. It was hairy. It looked at the chickens and licked it's lips... (Big Chickens)
Exercise: Write a scene where you wake up in a dark house after hearing an odd sound. Expand the moment to build suspense.
6. HUMOR—Having fun with your writing makes it interesting for both you and the reader.
"We have chicken power! We have chicken brains! We have chicken guts!”
Exercise: Write a paragraph that places a character in an environment or situation you wouldn't expect him to be. Example: A city boy in a ballet class or a pig in a chicken coop. Exaggerate the circumstances to create humor.
7. HYPHENATED MODIFIERS—Saying something in a different way can bring interest and recognition of how something feels. Hyphenated adjectives often cause the reader to "sit up and take notice."
"She rolled her eyes at her mother and turned her nose up with a "god-I-can't-believe-you-actually-said-that sniff."
Exercise: Write your own hyphenated modifiers.
1. Mom and Dad went in the back room for one of their_________________________________talks.
2. The most popular girl in school threw me one of her_________________________________looks.
3. The dog had a_______________________face.
4. His fingernails were of the____________variety.
5. She put her feet into the _____________shoes.
8. FULL-CIRCLE ENDING—To wrap up a story, try repeating a phrase or idea that brings the reader back to an idea at the beginning of a piece.
Beginning: "One day four big chickens peeked out the coop window and saw a wolf sneak into the farmyard.
The chickens pwocked, flocked and rocked. They knocked into themselves and each other until one by one they tumbled out of the cop. The door slammed shut and the chickens ran into the woods to hide."
Ending: "...The chickens picked, pecked and pocked. They ruffled, puffled, and shuffled. They shrieked, squeaked, and freaked, until...the wolf ran out of the cave."
(Big Chickens)ASSIGNMENT: A 300-400 word descriptive narrative essay about a time in your life when you made a choice that did not make you feel good. You may want/need to embellish (to improve by adding details; often fictitious details.) the story a bit. The idea is for you to tell a story that is both descriptive and entertaining. Use 5-7 Smiley Face Tricks in your essay. Have fun with this. To help with ideas, you can brainstorm by listing words that relate to your topic or by stream of consciousness writing