Describing words for Kids are the topic of our blog post today!

When it comes to building strong language skills, the power of describing words can’t be overstated. Descriptive words, which are a type of adjectives, serve as one of the building blocks of eloquent expression. These words go beyond the basics of nouns and verbs, allowing us to paint vivid pictures and convey complex emotions.

According to language development theories, such as the one articulated by Stephen Krashen in “Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition,” vocabulary is crucial in acquiring and mastering any language. Moreover, a study published in the Applied Psycholinguistics journal, confirms that when it comes to developing language skills vocabulary size matters.

According to this study, having a large expressive vocabulary size at the age of 2 is a significant predictor of language and literacy skills up to fifth grade. This holds true even after accounting for factors such as gender, birth order, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

Given its importance in language development, today’s post is all about describing words or descriptive words. I am sharing with you this extensive list of examples of describing words covering various topics from describing personalities to expressing feelings. I also added a section at the bottom of the post featuring some practical strategies to teach kids describing words.

Describing Words for Kids

Here are some examples of describing words to share with your students:

Words for Describing Personalities

In my own experience, finding just the right word can make all the difference in understanding and communicating complex ideas like personality traits. So, here’s a nuanced list that aims to go beyond the usual “happy” or “sad” descriptors. This list includes a mix of words that are accessible to kids but also some that might challenge them to expand their vocabulary:

Energetic: Full of life and enthusiasm.

Thoughtful: Shows consideration for others.

Curious: Eager to learn or know something new.

Adventurous: Willing to take risks or to try out new methods, ideas, or experiences.

Shy: Quiet and a little nervous around other people.

Confident: Sure of oneself and one’s abilities.

Diligent: Shows care and conscientiousness in one’s work or duties.

Stubborn: Unwilling to change one’s opinion or chosen course of action.

Humble: Not having or showing a feeling of being better than others.

Optimistic: Hopeful and confident about the future.

Pessimistic: Tending to see the worst aspect of things.

Compassionate: Feeling or showing concern for others.

Zany: Amusingly unconventional or idiosyncratic.

Sincere: Free from pretense, deceit, or hypocrisy.

Ambitious: Having a strong desire for success or achievement.

Cautious: Avoiding unnecessary risks or mistakes.

Generous: Ready to give more than is expected or necessary.

Grumpy: Bad-tempered and irritable.

Artistic: Having natural creative skill or interest in the arts.

Witty: Using words in a clever and amusing way.

Words for Describing Physical Features

Describing physical features often gives children the earliest practice in using descriptive language. In the classroom, we would often play “guess who” games that required the kids to describe physical features, and I found it was a fantastic way to broaden their vocabulary. So, here’s a rich list of words to describe physical features:

Tall: Higher than average height.

Short: Lower than average height.

Slim: Thin in an attractive way.

Chubby: Slightly fat in a way that looks healthy.

Freckled: Covered with small, pale brown spots.

Curly: Having hair that forms curls.

Straight: Hair that is not curly or wavy.

Blonde: Having light-colored hair.

Brunette: Having dark brown hair.

Auburn: Reddish-brown hair color.

Muscular: Having well-developed muscles.

Lanky: Ungracefully thin and tall.

Rosy: Having rosy cheeks; a warm, pinkish color.

Tanned: Having skin darkened by the sun.

Pale: Light in color, sometimes due to illness or lack of sun.

Wrinkled: Having small lines or folds, often due to age or dryness.

Bearded: Having a growth of hair on the face.

Bald: Having no hair on the head.

Graceful: Having beauty of movement, form, or proportion.

Clumsy: Moving or doing things in a careless way, often leading to accidents.

Words for Describing Sizes

Size descriptions are a favorite topic for children, especially when they’re comparing things like the sizes of dinosaurs or planets. In my experience, kids get a kick out of learning words that can help them be more specific about sizes. Here’s a list of words for describing sizes that can add dimension to your young learners’ vocabularies:

Tiny: Very small; miniature.

Petite: Small and slender or dainty.

Compact: Small and efficient in size or shape.

Enormous: Very large; gigantic.

Vast: Of very great area or extent.

Minuscule: Extremely small; tiny.

Hefty: Large and heavy, often in a bulky way.

Spacious: Having a lot of space; roomy.

Narrow: Limited in extent or scope; restricted.

Wide: Having great extent from side to side.

Shallow: Not deep; lacking depth.

Deep: Extending far down from the top or surface.

Slender: Gracefully thin; slim.

Bulky: Taking up much space; large.

Plump: Slightly fat in a pleasant, rounded way.

Pint-sized: Very small; diminutive.

Gargantuan: Extremely large or massive.

Skimpy: Less than enough in size or scope.

Towering: Exceptionally tall, either in height or in stature.

Minuscule: Extremely small, tiny.

Words That Mimic Sounds

Sound words, or onomatopoeic words, are just fascinating for children and really help them to engage with their environments in a more meaningful way. I remember doing listening exercises with my students, where we’d sit quietly and then discuss all the sounds we heard, trying to mimic them with words. It was an eye-opening experience for many of them. So, here’s a list of words that mimic sounds, ideal for auditory explorations with young learners:

Buzz: The sound a bee makes.

Creak: The noise of a slowly opening door.

Rustle: The sound of leaves or paper lightly rubbing together.

Clang: The sound of metal striking metal.

Sizzle: The sound of food frying.

Chirp: The short, high-pitched sound a small bird or cricket makes.

Drip: The sound of a liquid falling drop by drop.

Snort: The noise made by exhaling forcefully through the nostrils.

Whistle: A clear, high-pitched sound made by forcing air through a small hole.

Click: A short, sharp sound, often produced by objects such as a camera or computer mouse.

Bang: A loud, sudden, explosive noise, like the discharge of a gun.

Slap: The sound of a sharp blow or smack, often against skin.

Pop: The noise of a small explosion, like a bursting bubble.

Crunch: The sound of something being crushed or broken, like footsteps on gravel.

Hiss: The sound of gas or steam escaping, or the noise a snake makes.

Squawk: A loud, harsh cry, often associated with birds like parrots.

Beep: A short, single tone, often indicating that something has been completed or needs attention.

Toot: The sound of a horn or whistle.

Thud: The sound of something heavy landing or falling.

Gargle: The bubbling sound made by swishing liquid in the throat.

Words to Express Feelings

Feelings and emotions can be complex to describe, especially for children who are still building their vocabulary. I often found that activities that focus on emotional intelligence helped students not just academically but also personally. Being able to pinpoint exactly what you’re feeling can be empowering. So here’s a list of words to express feelings that can be a wonderful addition to any classroom or home:

Happy: Feeling joy or pleasure.

Sad: Feeling unhappy, often due to a specific event.

Excited: Feeling very enthusiastic and eager.

Angry: Having strong feelings of displeasure or hostility.

Anxious: Worrying excessively; feeling uneasy or apprehensive.

Calm: Peaceful, quiet, and without worry.

Confident: Feeling sure about oneself and one’s abilities.

Fearful: Feeling afraid or scared.

Grateful: Feeling thankful and appreciative.

Lonely: Feeling sad because one has no company.

Jealous: Feeling envy towards someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.

Relieved: No longer feeling distressed or anxious; reassured.

Proud: Feeling deep satisfaction as a result of one’s own achievements or qualities.

Frustrated: Feeling annoyed and upset because you cannot do something you are trying to do.

Guilty: Feeling responsible for wrongdoing.

Nervous: Feeling anxious or apprehensive, often about a specific event.

Hopeful: Having a feeling of expectation and desire for something to happen.

Overwhelmed: Feeling like you have too much to deal with.

Bored: Lacking interest in one’s current activity.

Amused: Finding something funny or entertaining.

Words for Describing Taste and Food

Food is the universal language that everyone understands and loves. Describing the taste of food can be a very engaging activity, especially for children. In class, we used to do taste tests and then describe what we ate. It was a hit every time! And also a sneaky way to introduce new vocabulary. Here’s a list that dives into words for describing taste and food:

Sweet: Tasting like sugar; opposite of bitter.

Salty: Tasting of or containing salt.

Spicy: Having strong flavors from spices; hot.

Bitter: A sharp, pungent taste, often considered unpleasant.

Sour: Acids taste; opposite of sweet.

Savory: Pleasantly salty or spicy; not sweet.

Tangy: A taste that’s sharp and full of flavor.

Earthy: Reminds one of the smell of fresh soil or mushrooms.

Juicy: Full of juice; moist.

Crispy: Firm but easily breaking or snapping; opposite of soft.

Creamy: Having the rich texture of cream.

Chewy: Requires a lot of chewing; not soft but not hard either.

Crunchy: Making a sharp noise when eaten; opposite of soggy.

Zesty: Full of zest; spicy or tangy.

Fruity: Tastes or smells like fruit.

Nutty: Tastes like nuts; often used for certain grains or legumes as well.

Minty: Tastes like mint; fresh and cool.

Buttery: Contains a lot of butter or tastes like it; rich and smooth.

Smoky: Having the aroma or flavor of smoked food.

Astringent: Produces a dry, puckery feeling in the mouth.

Words for Describing Colors and Smells

Colors and smells bring a layer of richness to our lives that is incredibly powerful. I remember one activity where my students were asked to describe the color of the sky at different times of the day and match it with smells they’d associate with those times. You’d be amazed at how creative kids can get when they have the vocabulary to express themselves. So, here’s a list that focuses on words for describing colors and smells:

Words for Describing Colors:

Vibrant: Bright and striking.

Pastel: Soft, pale colors.

Neon: Extremely bright, electric colors.

Earthy: Colors that are subdued and found in nature.

Iridescent: Showing luminous colors that change when seen from different angles.

Matte: Lacking shine or luster; dull.

Muted: Subdued, softened, less intense.

Jewel-toned: Rich, deeply saturated colors like those of gemstones.

Gradient: An even, smooth transition between colors.

Monochrome: Consisting of variations of a single color.

Words for Describing Smells:

Floral: Smells like flowers.

Musty: Stale and unclean smell.

Pungent: Strong, sharp smell.

Minty: Smells like mint; fresh and slightly spicy.

Zesty: Fresh, invigorating smell.

Earthy: Reminiscent of wet soil or forests.

Musky: A strong, heavy smell, often associated with perfumes.

Acrid: A strong and sharp, often unpleasant smell.

Citrusy: Smells like citrus fruits; often fresh and tangy.

Spicy: Reminiscent of spices like cinnamon, cloves, or pepper.

Strategies for Teaching Kids Descriptive Words Effectively

Teaching kids descriptive words doesn’t have to be a chore; it can actually be a lot of fun. It’s all about using the right strategies. In my years in the classroom , I’ve picked up a few methods that resonate well with young learners. The idea is to make vocabulary learning as engaging and relevant as possible.

1. Contextual Learning is Key

Instead of rote memorization, introduce descriptive words in context. Whether it’s through storytelling, daily routines, or thematic units, kids are more likely to remember and understand words if they know how to use them in real-life situations.

2. Use Multisensory Methods

Tap into the different senses for a more engaging learning experience. For instance, you could introduce words for tastes and smells by actually having a tasting session.

3. Create Word Banks

Word banks serve as a quick reference and can be thematic or general. Having a word bank for each unit or subject can help students feel more empowered to use new vocabulary in their writing and conversations.

4. Leverage Technology

There are numerous educational apps that make vocabulary learning fun. Games like Word Bingo or interactive eBooks can be excellent aids. But remember, nothing beats the effectiveness of guided, thoughtful teaching, so use tech as a supplementary tool, not a replacement.

5. Utilize Visual Aids

Flashcards, posters, and images can serve as excellent visual aids to reinforce learning. Visual stimuli make abstract words more concrete, which aids in memory retention.

6. Make it a Game

Kids love games. From “I Spy” using descriptive words to vocabulary bingo, making a game out of learning can significantly up the engagement factor.

7. Active Participation

Get the kids involved. Whether it’s through group activities, pair work, or individual presentations, active participation can make the vocabulary stick.

8. Review and Reinforce

Regularly review the words that have been learned. Repetition, when done correctly, can help move words from short-term to long-term memory.

9. Encourage Daily Use

Challenge students to use new descriptive words in their daily conversations and writing. The more they use them, the more natural it will become.

10. Foster a Reading Culture

The more kids read, the more words they’re exposed to. Even if it’s just 10 minutes of reading a day, the benefits are enormous. (check out this list of best kids books in 2023 for recommendations)

Final thoughts

As we saw from the research, a robust vocabulary as early as age 2 can set the stage for academic achievements in language and literacy down the line. Hence the importance of introducing kids to describing words to enrich their vocabulary in an early age.

I covered a lot of ground in this post, from the importance of contextual learning to the value of fostering a reading culture. Remember, introducing kids to a diverse set of describing words doesn’t just expand their vocabulary; it amplifies their ability to articulate their thoughts, feelings, and observations, essentially giving them more tools to navigate their world.

The post Unlocking Language Skills with Describing Words for Kids appeared first on Educators Technology.