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

illustration from The Fall of the House of Usher (Tales of Mystery) by Edgar Allan Poe, Level 5 reader

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

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.

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

Click and download the three double spreads:

4 Questions to discuss:

sleepy illustration

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.

Chart1_HelblingReaders_Writing

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

Chart2_HelblingReadersWriting

 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:

One Comment

  1. This is really useful, thanks Nora