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Read to Write – How to create a mysterious setting in 8 easy steps

October 23, 2013 by Nora Nagy

A writing lesson plan with images and extracts for 3 levels

This is a lesson plan you can print out and take to class. It will help you develop a mysterious setting for a story, and it’s great for practising reading, vocabulary and writing. This lesson can be even more fun if you ask your students to bring in scary music to create a really mysterious atmosphere.

Illustration from The Fall of the House of Usher (Tales of Mystery) by Edgar Allan Poe. Illustrated by Giuseppe Palumbo.  © Helbling Languages

You'll need:

  • The lesson plan
  • The double spreads with the illustrations for each level you choose – they also work well if you use a projector or an IWB.
  • You can also choose famous paintings and build the lesson around them.
  • The graphic organizer charts and suggested answers for activity 7 (2 PDF files).

The lesson plan

1 Introduction and visualisation. 

  • Imagine a scary place you have seen in a film or have visited.

2 How do you feel about the place? 

  • At this point you might need help with vocabulary. Brainstorm words and phrases.

3 Look at the double spreads with the illustration and focus on the images.

Sample pages from Zadie's Last Race by Martyn Hobbs. Illustrated by Lorenzo Sabbatini.  © Helbling Languages

The three stories

4 Discussion questions

Illustration from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. © Helbling Languages
  • Is it like the place you imagined?
  • How do you feel about this image?
  • Where is it set?
  • Focus on the question words: Where? How? When? Who? What?
  • Focus on the senses: What can you see, hear, feel, smell, taste?

5 Collect words and phrases (you can use a dictionary) that describe the images.

6 Now read the extract alone, and underline or circle phrases that refer to the images.

7 Collect words and phrases that give us information about the setting.

Write nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs in the boxes.

Write words and phrases that describe what you see, touch, hear, taste and smell in this setting.

 8 Writing activity

  • Work alone or in pairs and fill out the same charts for a scary and mysterious scene you have seen in a film or in real life.
  • Write a short paragraph to describe the scene.

Would you like more writing lesson ideas and tips on using illustrations? Check out other posts on this Blog: