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Lesson Plan

Cooking Up Descriptive Language: Designing Restaurant Menus

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Cooking Up Descriptive Language: Designing Restaurant Menus

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Students explore the genre of menus by analyzing existing menus from local restaurants. After establishing the characteristics of the genre, students work in groups to choose a restaurant and then create their own custom menus. They then analyze the use of adjectives and descriptive language on sample menus before revising their own menus with attention to descriptive phrasing. The final menus can be customized to fit the needs of your class. In advanced classes or situations where you can allow extra time for writing and publishing the menus, students can create fully detailed menus that include foods for all meals as well as details about the restaurant itself, such as history of the restaurant or background on the foods. If time is limited, arrange students in groups and have each group design one page or section of the menu.

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Flip Book: This online tool allows students to type and illustrate tabbed flip books up to ten pages long.

Restaurant Menu Planning Sheet: Students can use this reproducible to plan the details of their menu before going online to create it.

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Students are likely to be familiar with restaurant menus-even if they have never thought carefully about the information included on a menu, they have probably seen many kinds of menus in their environment. Depending upon their experience, students may have seen school breakfast and lunch menus, fast food restaurant menus, or local family restaurant menus. Further, they have probably heard descriptive language associated with restaurant food on television and radio commercials. By tapping this prior knowledge, this lesson encourages students to connect their understanding of the ways that language works to specific grammatical concepts as well as to draw upon their implicit knowledge of the genre to compose their own texts.

Further Reading

Smith, Susan H. with Bethany Hickey. "Menu Magic!" Voices from the Middle 10.4 (May 2003): 13-15.

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