Using Color

Nov 2, 2009 by

Writing Trait/Strategy:

word choice; sentence fluency

Mentor Text Suggestions:


Color is a tool used by writers to enhance their descriptive writing and create mind pictures for the reader. The mentor texts listed above can be used to show students how different authors use the concept of color to develop their ideas. We can even have students borrow the structure of these books and explore colors on their own. The following lesson is an example:

Color Poems

Read aloud Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill. Have each child select a color to write about. Ask, “If you could taste this color, what would it taste like? If you could hear it, what would it sound like?” Repeat with all 5 senses. Have students record their ideas on a planning sheet (pp. 107-108). On their first drafts most students will use simple sentences such as,

“Blue is the sight of the sky.”

“Pink is the taste of watermelon.”

Encourage them to expand these sentences to include more description to create mind pictures for the reader:

“Blue is the sight of the sky when the cumulus clouds

are moving to different parts of the sky.” by Jaymi

“Pink is the taste of watermelon squirting juice

in my mouth when I bite into a piece.” by Kelly



After students complete their drafts on the planning sheets, have them write color poems using some of the words and phrases and then illustrate.

Check out this website for another variation on these color poems:  “Have You Heard the Sound of…” Poems

In other mentor texts, color is used more subtly but just as powerfully:

“The farms in Iowa. They are pictures: White houses. Red roofs. Green, green
rolling hills and black garden soil all around them.”

from Tulip Sees America by Cynthia Rylant

“The garden glows with cone flowers, purple-blue, and marigolds, lantana,
as flame and thistles, too.”

from Butterfly House by Eve Bunting

“He calls to me with a promise in his voice, and I run, seeing his hand curl
like a flower budding, then unfolding wide so I can see the pink circle of a
worm, the round beetle shining in gold armor, …or the leaf-green mantis
balancing today on long thin legs.”

from My Father’s Hands by Joanne Ryder

Other mentor texts that have examples of color words:

Once you call attention to author’s use of color, you and your students will begin to notice examples everywhere!

Related Posts

Share This