A simple way to help students expand and improve their writing is to write a seed sentence on the board.
The child ate lunch.
This is a seed sentence because you can't tell much about the child or about the lunch.
Tell your student or students that our goal is to make the sentence bloom.
You can either provide a pre-written example of a bud sentence or have the student or students help expand the sentence. I like to focus on the different parts of the sentence - Can we use more specific nouns? Was the child a boy or a girl? How about using a name? What about the verb? Can we make it more active to help the sentence come alive?
The bud sentence could look something like this:
Ronald scarfed down a pastrami sandwich.
Much more descriptive, right? But the sentence could still be better. It could still expand and become a more interesting sentence. How about adding some adjectives? Or playing with the sentence structure to make it flow differently?
The bloom sentence might be:
As Ronald scarfed down a pastrami sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes, some mustard oozed out and stuck to his wild red hair.
Rewriting individual sentences helps students to grasp how to make their own writing more vivid. After practicing a couple of these, a student can go back into his or her writing notebook and underline sentences that need a little boost. Then he or she can expand each of those sentences and help them to bloom as well.