Use Emotions & Expressive Phrases

Primary English Tips | Creative Writing: Using Emotions & Expressive Phrases

How do you get your child to use emotions and expressive phrases for the characters in a story? Lots of children find it challenging to use descriptive phrases to help their characters express their feelings. In the case of anger for instance, many children either use mundane words like “angry” or “furious” repeatedly or they use a cut and paste method of memorizing a whole chunk of description in their compositions without considering how appropriate what they have memorized is for the context of their compositions.

Upon hearing that the penguins are visiting, a wave of jubilance swept through Polar. A big smile spread across his face as he thought about the fun that they were going to have. Unable to contain his happiness, he began doing a little cel…
Upon hearing that the penguins are visiting, a wave of jubilance swept through Polar. A big smile spread across his face as he thought about the fun that they were going to have. Unable to contain his happiness, he began doing a little celebratory dance.  (Source of picture: thisisthecoolestplace)


Use emotions and expressive phrases

A quick tip for helping your child to have a balanced approach in describing emotions is this:

Divide the descriptive phrases of feelings and emotions into 3 categories
1. Outside (what you can see) e.g. Upon hearing what happened, his face turned an ominous red.
2. Inside (what you cannot see inside of the character) e.g. He was boiling with rage.
3. Action (what the character does because of the emotion) e.g. His hands were shaking uncontrollably. OR In a fit of anger, he punched the wall.

The problem is that a lot of children do not see emotions in a composition as a symphony of the “outside”, “inside” and “actions” happening together. Hence, instead of having your child memorize tens of phrases blindly, help him to see how description of emotions should be meaningful because when we feel (e.g. angry), these 3 areas respond together and are not separated from each other. Have your child imagine and remember sets of emotions consisting of the “outside”, “inside” and “actions”.

Having a mixture of what the character looks, feels and does will provide a nice balanced description of his emotions. 

“How dare you betray me? I trusted you!” James bellowed, boiling with rage (inside)His hands were shaking uncontrollably(action) and his face turned an ominous red(outside). In a fit of anger, he punched the wall(action), leaving a fine crack on the white surface. Before Thomas could react, James grabbed him by the collar and threw a fist at him(action).

Try this with the list of descriptive phrases you have now!

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With her passion to create relevant and easy-to-understand materials for the lil’ ones, Mrs Lily Chew works alongside her team of teachers to design the Lil’ but Mighty curriculum. Constantly looking at best educational practices and thinking of ways to improve the curriculum, Mrs Chew finds pure joy in unlocking creative and different ways of helping each child achieve his or her personal best.

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