Year 3: Writing A Character Description

By the time children leave the fluffy world of primary school, we would want them to be able to write character descriptions until they were coming out of their ears! By Year 6, they should be very capable to be given a character from the book they are reading, and just be asked to write with little teaching involved. This post links well with my Horrid Henry WAGOLL (What a good one looks like)

the gruffalo is a brown scary monster with sharp teeth and horns on his head.

However, in Year 3, especially if it is close to September, the children will invariably need more teaching to be able to complete a character description. They are great to start with because they are fun and the children can enjoy using a wider range of vocabulary- this just LOVE new words and putting them in their work!

How to help

  • READ READ READ at home with your child this is sooooo important for their writing!

What is a character description? Check the Horrid Henry WAGOLL to see what it should look like!

So, a character description is a passage of writing where the children tell the reader about the character they are writing about. They may include what the character looks like, how they act and what thoughts and feelings they may have.

fantastic mr fox is a book by roald dahl

In my experience, the best character descriptions written by my class have been when the children really fall in love with the character they are writing about- so there is a big pressure on the teacher to pick the right book to read! Fantastic Mr Fox springs to mind… my children loved this when we read it in class! Plus this is a great book for kids and parents to read together.

What kind of things is the teacher looking for in a Year 3 Character Description?

The simple answer is… lots of things! Year 3 is a great year because the children are growing up enough to write a bit more, but they are still quite young and will be mesmerised and hypnotised by a great story! The teacher will still be looking for the children to include certain things in their character description….

Capital letters and Full Stops! This may seem like a no brainer but it can be difficult for children to remember to write their full stops- especially when they are engrossed with writing! It is important for them to relax, stop and think… What do I want to say in this sentence… even rehearse it before writing it to make sure it is right!

Split it into paragraphs In Year 3, the children will understand that they only write about 1 topic in 1 paragraph. So in a character description they may write about their looks in paragraph 1, then their personality in paragraph 2.

Use more exciting vocabulary The Year 3 children are growing up a little bit and so will really want to use very exciting words in their work! They can gain such a wide vocabulary by reading consistently at home and by hearing their parents use good words too. Instead of writing big, they will be desperate to use the thesaurus and may pick colossal, enormous or gigantic instead!

Use fronted adverbials to make their sentences more grown up. Oh my GOODNESS ME WHAT IS A FRONTED ADVERBIAL!!!???? Don’t worry I thought the exact same thing when I first saw this term! But it really is simpler than it sounds. Instead of writing…

Brian escaped the dragon bravely…. the children could write…

Bravely, Brian escaped the dragon. In the second sentence, ‘Bravely’, is the fronted adverbial…. it just makes their writing more grown up!

Use apostrophes for possession. Again, apologies for the seemingly confusing terms! All this means is that the children will write… The cat’s water bowl… when the water bowl belongs to the cat. The apostrophe (flying comma in cat’s) shows the bowl belongs to the cat.

Obviously each school will have their own ways and means of teaching this form of writing, but these are the major things that will be in a Year 3 character description!

How YOU can help at home… Horrid Henry Description (What it should look like…)

  • Read, read, read, read, READ, and read some more! Find a book that your child likes, and read it- together and let them read alone. Every single great writer I have seen in my time as a Primary Teacher has been an avid reader- EVERY…. SINGLE…. ONE! It is the main way they obtain a wide vocabulary.
  • Practise describing! Pick anything (preferably something they love) and ask them to write about it- pick silly things like the family pet, even the fruit bowl, or their baby brother’s toys (think of the colours!) and get them to write 3 or 4 sentences about it. Encourage them to use their exciting vocabulary!
  • Practise using fronted adverbials (see above) Instead of writing… Eva walked to school calmly, could they write Calmly, Eva walked to school?

Thanks for reading and I hope this was useful- most importantly, have fun and enjoy it!

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