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What is a Descriptosaurus?

Descriptosaurus book coverA Descriptosaurus is an innovative model of creative writing that is a thematic expansion of a dictionary and a thesaurus. To be creative when writing, it is first necessary to have the requisite knowledge and skills – the vocabulary to describe and the structure to organise ideas.

A Descriptosaurus provides children with a comprehensive resource to help them expand their descriptive vocabulary, experiment with language and sentence structure and build up narratives based around the following areas:

  • Settings – landscapes, settlements & atmosphere         
  • Characters – appearance, emotions & personality
  • Creatures – appearance, abilities & habitats

A dictionary teaches children the meaning of words and a thesaurus expands their vocabulary. A Descriptosaurus teaches them how to describe a setting using their senses and how to describe a character using expressions, voice and movement, to add detail, depth and colour to their writing.

It positions the words – be it appearance, expression, landscape, smell or sound – classifies them as nouns, adjectives and verbs; zooms in to examine their meaning and then expands them into phrases and sentences. It shows how they can be used and provides alternative sentence structures.

The model was created by teacher and author Alison Wilcox as a result of feedback from children about the resources they required to inspire and assist them with their writing. For reluctant writers or those faced with the ‘blank page syndrome,’ a Descriptosaurus provides invaluable starting points to encourage putting pen to paper.

Find out more about Descriptosaurus 

Back to Descriptosaurus Writing Challenge competition page


The National Literacy Trust is a registered charity no. 1116260 and a company limited by guarantee no. 5836486 registered in England and Wales and a registered charity in Scotland no. SC042944.
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