fenced-in playground, slides, swings, jungle gyms, chalk-colored sidewalks, walls covered with artwork, office, restrooms, janitorial closets, classrooms, tiled or carpeted floors, cubbies, lunchboxes, backpacks, jackets hanging on coat hooks, pencil sharpeners, rectangular and kidney-shaped tables, plastic chairs, baskets of crayons/pencils/glue sticks/safety scissors, teacher's desk, lesson plan book, calendar, stapler, tape dispenser, mug of pens, post-it notes, tissues, hand sanitizer, file cabinet, knick-knacks, bulletin boards with tacked-up artwork, various centers (art, music, seasonal activities, dress-up, kitchen, science, math, reading, puzzles, computer), bookshelves full of books, beanbags and pillows for reading, cupboards/cabinets/shelving for storage, TV, DVD player, white board and markers, folded mats for naptime, garbage cans surrounded by balled-up pieces of paper and cracker crumbs, colorful rug for group activities, windows partially covered by seasonal appliqués and children's artwork, paper projects hanging from the ceiling, glitter, walls dotted with push-pin holes and remnants of tape pieces/blue sticky-tac, children, teachers, parents, volunteers, aides
Children laughing/yelling/talking/singing/crying/playing, teachers talking/yelling/reading, children speaking in chorus, phones ringing, shoes slapping on sidewalk, doors slamming, the snick of scissors, happy music playing, squeaky swings, slap of hands in hand games, swish of jump ropes, the rattle of a chain-link fence on a windy day, TVs, scratch of a teacher's pen during naptime, crinkling snack bags, slurp of drink straws, splashing water fountain, chairs scraping on the floor, block towers crashing to the rug, toy cars smashing into walls, quiet rustle of pages turning during story time, splash of water at the sink, toilets flushing, playground gates creaking open, jacket zippers going up and down, musical instruments, printer printing, click of computer keys, whirr of an oscillating fan, noses being blown, sneezing, coughing, sniffling, vacuums, leaf blowers, lawn mowers,
Snacks (crackers, granola bars, cookies, chips, fruit), juice, milk, coffee, glue, paint, disinfectant, sweat, urine, air fresheners, freshly-copied paper, rain
Snacks, juice, water, milk, coffee, sand
Heated/Cooled air blowing from vents, a child's hug, sticky hands, sweaty hair, soft tissues, smooth table surfaces, cracker crumbs on your chair, the scratch of a pencil or crayon on paper, fuzzy carpets, hard plastic chairs, backpack pulling on your shoulders, gritty sand and dirt from the playground, dusty chalk, prickly mulch, scratchy jump rope in your hand, jar of feet against concrete as you play hopscotch, hands slapping in a hand game, flying through the air on the swing, wind, raindrops, hot slide on the backs of your legs, someone slapping you off-balance in a game of tag, soft beanbag or pillow, tiny pieces of glitter that won't come off your skin, gooey glue, malleable play-dough, cold water from the fountain running down your chin, wet finger paint, squeezy juice boxes, slippery soap, cold hand sanitizer, periodic blast of air from the oscillating fan, eyelids too heavy to keep open at naptime, vibration of an electric sharpener
--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Sarah let the teacher push her kindly out the door, then ran to peek through the window. The class sat in the reading corner, whispering, giggling, pulling on rug fibers to play with them. Molly, her little girl, shuffled to the circle of kids, the fan blowing her hair as she crossed its path. After the longest five seconds of Sarah's life, a little boy in the circle scooted over so Molly could sit next to him. He held out a baggy of cheese crackers. Molly took one and smiled at her new friend. Swallowing tears, Sarah pushed herself off the cinder block wall and went to work, her shoes making a lonely clacking sound on the tile.
Jacob jumped the bus steps two at a time, his pack bouncing on his back as he ran to the aftercare room. Someone called his name on the playground and he waved. Each step seemed to knock off a worry until, by the time he reached Mr. Crane's room, he was loose as a noodle. He dropped his pack to the floor and sighed. No telling what mood Dad would be in tonight, but he had three hours before he had to worry about that. Jacob high-fived Mr. Crane and started on his homework.
--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile)
She wrinkled her nose and turned the fan to blow directly in her face. The four-year-old class after recess smelled like a high-school locker room.
Example 2: (Metaphor)
The snowflake project had clearly gotten out of hand. With all the glitter in the air, I could've been standing in a snow globe.