Thornhill4_5HappyEver heard of a word portrait? Did you know that portraits aren't just painted with paintbrushes or taken with a camera? In this session, the 4th & 5th grade students at Thornhill Elementary have been writing portraits of their lives, the lives of others, the places they love and more. From My Name Is Exercise: (Using this prompt please use personification to write about your name.)

My Name Is... My name is made from the sweet smell of eucalyptus in the morning, the deep, low rumble and roar of the tiger, the squeaks, purrs, and kindness of how my pets greet me when I come home. The gentle breeze when I sit outside reading, writing, stoking my pets, and listening to the birds chirp in the afternoon. My name is made from the joyfulness of going to Peru and hiking, biking, learning, going to new places and going rafting in a tough river. I found my name can fly to the depths of the sky and run as fast as a cheetah.

- Michela

My Name Is...

My name is made from the flowers that bloom in the spring and the snowflakes that fall in the winter. I found my name in a redwood tree high above the ground. My name can fly high above the ground, and never come down. If I lost my name I would look in the trees and in the sky and find it right where I left it.

- Gwen

My Name Is... My name is made from little baby pandas screeching at the zoo. It is from my pen scribbling across my page. I found my name in a deep dark hole in the ground. My name dashes through the colors of life. If I lost my name I would cry until I found my mischievous name.

- Sophie

From Portrait of a Place Exercise:

One day I was in Japan. I was walking on the street and I saw agate that led to a garden. There were cats and dogs cuddling, pretty red, orange, green, and pink plants and trees all over the soft grass. Birds singing. Benches for people to sit on. I smelled the pine trees. The flowers smelled better than ever too. I thought I tasted fruits and veggies. There was a door. It led to a lake as blue as the sky. Beavers building dams and owls sleeping. It was amazing. No not amazing. Outstanding.

- Robert

From My Emotion Is Exercise: (Using this prompt please use personification to write about your emotion.)


My Emotion Is ...

My happiness is courageous and strong.

My happiness comes from the sleek, black piano downstairs.

I found my happiness in the ripe, juicy blackberries that grow outside in the summer.

My happiness can soar high in the sky with the birds and the clouds.

If I ever lost my happiness, I would search high and low and probably find it right where I left it.

- Emma

From the Paint a Word Portrait Exercise: (Describe a person using as many metaphors and similes as you can.)

Untitled Black and White the Horse: She is a white as a new blanket of snow with black spots as black as the sky when it is dark at night. As gentle as a flower, as pretty as a rose, as caring as a mother, she is as playful as a baby.



She has freckles that sprinkle across her nose and under her eyes like chocolate sprinkles on a vanilla cupcake. She has eyes that are brown like my Papa’s skin. She has wavy blonde hair that looks like the wood of Ms. Young’s desk. She has a line of pearly whites that she flashes when she is happy.

- Lauren

His eyes were as gray as a cloudy day, his face tomato-red with laughter. His thin hair standing up. The highlights of blond from the long summer heat.



Her fur is as black as the darkest night. Her eyes are as round as moons and as yellow as sunflower petals. Her nose is as rich and luxurious as chocolate. Her tongue is as pink as candy and as rough as sandpaper. Here ears are as soft as a warm fuzzy jacket. Her body is as warm as a fireplace.


Thornhill4_5WritingLetter to your Future self: write a letter to your future self – the person you imagine you’ll be at 21.

Dear Maxwell 21 person,

Am I famous! How are my savings, a gazillion yet? Is my chump Mitch still alive or is he losing it wandering the halls? By the way did I get that computer for Hanakuh? No leaving the house at night! Do I have 12 kids? Is there a war? Who is president? Are there zombies in the street? Is Mitch richer than me? Please tell me you live in a house. Where do you live? Take this into consideration.

Peace Out!

Ten year old Maxwell

Dear Sidney from the future,

...Are you tall? I was just wondering because I am always in the top row for everything.

What college did you go to? What kind of job do you have? Where do you live?

Being a kid I pretty awesome! You fly on wings made out of Elmer’s glue and popsicle sticks all the way through elementary and middle school.

From Sidney, age 11

From the free write prompt: I Reached inside my pocket...


One day I was walking to my house and I saw this tiny piece of a puzzle. It was black with white spots so I put the random piece in my pocket. As I was placing the puzzle in my pocket a fat grump troll came up to my foot and said, “Hey big footed person why are you messing up my puzzle? I was looking for that piece.” - Kalaya

A Day in the Life Of... Exercise: (Describe a day in the life of an object or animal.)

Mr. Egg Mr. Egg trotted out of his nest; he was tired of being sat on. “I want to make a difference in the world!” he said one early Sunday morning. Suddenly he was picked up by a giant hand, “Ahh!” Of course no one could hear him. The hand was moving and then he was in a bucket of water with all of his cousins and brothers and sisters.  They were trying to drown him! “Outrageous!” he mumbled to himself still holding his breath.

-- Maddy

Painting a Portrait through Voice Exercise: (Try writing a paragraph using an emotion to to practice voice.) Nervous

My hands were shaking so hard I couldn’t eat the cupcake they gave me. There were butterflies in my stomach and my knees were knocking. When the president called my name I thought I was going to die. I took a deep breath and walked in the office.



My palms were so sweaty they kept on slipping on the piano and my knees were knocking. The curtains started to open and I tried to prepare myself. The curtains suddenly opened and the spotlight fell on me. I started to play, at first slowly but getting faster. My nervousness disappeared, replaced by excitement and (I now regret it) even a little arrogance. O played faster and faster when suddenly I hit a wrong chord! Horrified I turned bright red and faltered for a second before continuing.



My whole heart was pounding and bouncing up and down in my body. I was 100% shivering. Butterflies were having a disco party in my stomach and they were bouncing to the bottom of my feet. Everyone was just staring at me to start. My stomach was now tied in knot. Big knots. HUGE knots. ANGRY knots! I couldn’t even take a breath.


If You Want to Find... Exercise: (Using a unifying color, the kids create a scene using descriptive words to “paint” it.)

Green If you want to find green go look in a baseball stadium, look at the ground, you will see turf. Look at the A’s players pitching, bating and running.  Look at the fans cheering and wearing A’s uniforms. Look at the shiny green shoes of the players. Take your green ice cream that you bought from the person that goes around the stadium selling stuff. Buy a hamburger, look at the lettuce inside it. When the game is done get in your shiny light green car, put you’re A’s hat on and drive home, if you want to find green.

- Adrian

Black If you want to find black look in the place with the black shadows glazed on the sidewalk. You pet the black kitten that patiently waits at your feet. I saw the black hair curled down her back. Look at the oil coming out of your car if you want to find black.

- Jamie

Green If you want to find green go out in your yard and play in the long blades of grass. Go out to the park and fins the moss at the base of a tree. Then get a look at the dirty pond with a frog jumping from one lily pad to the next. After lunch go out to the ice cream shop and buy some mint ice cream. Later after a long day go home and have dinner which will be vegetables and soup.



If you want to find blue look up and see the bright sky shining down on you, Or you could jump into the waves and snorkel down and find a blue fish. You could surface and see all the blue beach umbrellas scattered along the sand. You can see a beach ball bouncing in between dozens of children trying to get their hands on it.