Lesson plan

My Five Senses Portrait

This five senses art and writing lesson will give your students an up close and personal look at the five senses and themselves.
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Students will be able to make and label a five senses self-portrait.

(5 minutes)
  • Invite the class to gather for the start of the lesson.
  • Ask students to close their eyes, then clap your hands a few times. Ask the class to think about which of their five senses they just used.
  • Say, “Right! You used your hearing when you listened to me clap. What are the other senses you have?”
  • Engage the students in a brief discussion about the five senses (smell, sight, touch, taste, hear) record them on the whiteboard or chart paper to capture student thinking.
  • Provide small visuals (drawn or printed) next to each of the five senses recording on the board to support student understanding.
  • Add the five senses words to existing word wall for student reference.
  • As needed, review what the senses are by saying, “Our senses are how we learn about the world. When we use our different senses we are able to observe different things by listening, tasting, touching, looking, and smelling. When we observe the world, we are really paying careful attention and learning.”
(10 minutes)
  • Read aloud a book about the Five Senses such as Cold, Crunchy, Colorful: Using Our Senses by Jane Brocket
  • Pause as you read to notice details about each of the five senses.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to turn and talk to a partner to share how they use their five senses.
  • Invite two to three students to share out their ideas with the class to confirm understanding.
  • Review the five senses with the class. Clarify any confusion about the senses as needed.
  • Use the five senses list you created with student input during the introduction.
  • Display your example portrait and ask students to identify what it is. Ideas might include: picture, painting, picture of a person, etc.
  • Explain that a picture of a person that was painted or drawn is called a portrait. When we create a portrait of ourselves, we call it a self-portrait.
  • Explain that today students will get to create their own five senses self-portrait. This means that they will get to create a picture of themselves and label the picture using five sense words.
  • Place the portrait on the whiteboard and ask students to think about where they would write the word “smell,” having a student come up and point to the nose. Demonstrate drawing a line from the nose and labeling it “smell.”
  • Continue asking about the remaining senses and having students come up and help label where/how we use them.
(20 minutes)
  • Explain that now students will create their own five senses portraits.
  • Post pre-written instructions (steps) for the project on the board for students to refer to.
  • Ask students to go over the instructions as a group, having one to two students explain each step.
  • Remind students of how to label their portrait, refer to the board as an example.
  • Pass out supplies and have students get to work.


  • Provide pre-written five senses labels for students to attach to their portraits that include small visuals.
  • Pre-teach a structured small group with teacher support to students to front-load the the five senses vocabulary and/or concepts.


  • Encourage advanced students to write sentences to go along with their self-portrait such as "I can see using my eyes, etc."
(5 minutes)
  • Assess whether students are able to accurately identify and label their senses on their self-portraits.
(5 minutes)
  • Gather students and have them do a gallery walk to view their classmates’ work.

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