Deer at Water's Edge

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Objective: Write a story or poem that incorporates rich and descriptive language about this landscape setting. 

Setting Up the Wonder: ... I was standing on the other shore when the deer arrived through the woods. She did not see me, so I stayed very still while watching her sip the water. 

Note: To see definitions of highlighted terms used below, please visit the page Writing Wonders.



Step One: Cloud-Think

Cloud-think about where the deer came from and why it came to the water. Think about the type of day she had and what might have happened to send her to the edge of the lake.


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Step Two: Tight-Think

Tight-think about the scenery in the photograph. There are layers of water, shore grasses, shrubs and trees.

During the Tight-Think, Have the students/children take a few minutes to carefully study the photograph, searching for details that might have meaning to them, or which might spur descriptive elements to add to the discussion/writing project. If necessary, help draw their attention to the details through these guided questions:

  • What do you see on the water? (reflections, ripples, sunlight, etc.)

  • Look closely at the deer. What do you notice? (Her tail is down. Why?)

  • Prompt the students/child to notice the ears, eyes, mouth and what they are doing. What other things can we notice by looking closely at the deer?

  • What do we notice about the water's depth?

  • Look closely at the trees and shrubs. Describe them.

  • In what way does the bare, dead tree look different from the other items in the landscape?

  • By inspecting the water, can we guess how much wind is there? How much sunlight?

  • There is only one deer. Why?

  • Where will she go next? Why?

Activity Extension for older students/children: Green is the predominant color in this image. Research all the different shades of green and the color words used to differentiate and communicate them. Make a list of your favorites. Use these words in your story or poem.The deer is golden-red in color. What other words would describe this color? 



Step Three: Dash-Write

Dash-Write a simple story about why the deer came to the water's edge and what the landscape looked like when the deer arrived. Be descriptive and detailed.


Dash-Write a poem titled The Deer at Water's Edge that centers around the setting of this photograph.

About Dash-write: Post brainstorming and discussion, give students 10-minutes to write their story in a Dash-write fashion. Depending upon age or grade level, you can also simply use the prompt for a brainstorming creative discussion. 


In Your Home:

You can use this Writing Wonder in your home for fun! If the children are too young to write words/sentences, this is a great activity for spurring wonder-thinking in a casual manner:

  • At the dinner table

  • At bedtime

  • At quiet time

  • When teaching about nature

  • In the car

  • In waiting rooms

Just bring your ipad or phone with you and click through to the photo so the children can look at it while you pose the questions, then let them answer while guiding their brainstorming along in progressive fashion.

About the Deer in Real Life:

This is a White-tailed Deer. Male deer are called bucks, and female deer are called does. The bucks are easy to recognize because in the summer and fall they have antlers. Does will typically give birth to one to three babies each spring, and these babies are called fawns. Deer browse for food during dusk and dawn, when it's still somewhat dark.


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