Sensory Language: Writing a Five Senses Poem
Using sensory language—descriptive words that relate to the senses—is key to enhancing writing and creating a visceral experience for any reader. In this reading and writing lesson plan for first graders, budding poets will practice using sensory words as they take on writing a five senses poem. Learners will read a story that demonstrates sensory language, practice describing a familiar playground using their five senses, and discover how onomatopoeia (e.g. pop, fizz, clink) can play a sensory role. Finally, they will craft a poem on a topic of their choice describing what they see, feel, hear, smell, and taste.
Students will be able to identify and write words and phrases that suggest feelings and appeal to the senses.
- Gather students together for the start of lesson.
- Review the five senses with your students and can describe each one. Ask students to describe the school playground using the five senses. Write their words and phrases on the board under the heading for each of the five senses (touch, smell, sight, sound, taste).
- Tell students that today they are going to be thinking about sensory language. This is when they use words to describe things or feelings in a way that reminds us of our different senses.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling(15 minutes)
- Read aloud An Island Grows by Lola M. Shaefer.
- As you are reading, pause and note descriptive, sensory words that are being used.
- Explain how some words are also pronounced to sound like the sound they make like: pop, fizz, clink, etc. This is called something special: Onomatopoeia.
- Ask students to think of other words that are also the sound they make. Write them on the board.
- Refer back to the five senses words from the previous section and explain that writers call this type of descriptive writing “using sensory language,” or words that remind us of our feelings and senses.
- Tell your students that they will now get to practice using sensory language by writing a "5 senses poem" together.
Guided Practice(10 minutes)
- Display the 5 Senses Poem worksheet on the board using a projector (or write each prompt on chart paper or a whiteboard).
- Ask your students to think of a topic for the group poem.
- Tell students to turn and talk to a partner to share their topic idea.
- Call on a few students to share their topic ideas and choose one.
- Fill in each sentence starter by asking students for sensory words to use that relate to the topic (ex. If their topic is the playground, ask them what they might see/hear/smell on a playground).
- Encourage your students to be serious and be silly!
- When finished, read the group poem aloud and explain that students will now get to write their own 5 senses poem.
Independent working time(15 minutes)
- Go over the 5 Senses Poetry worksheet with the class and send them to work independently.
- Circulate around the room and offer support as needed.
Support: Gather students who need additional support into a small group. Write a sensory language poem as a group using a topic that appeals to all students (zoo, farm, pizza, etc).
Enrichment: Have students who quickly finish the 5 Senses Poem worksheet write a second poem that includes sensory language using their own format.
Collect the 5 Senses Poem worksheet and assess whether students were able to include sensory language in each of the five categories.
Review and closing(5 minutes)
After the 15 minutes of independent work time has concluded, ask students to return to the rug with their poetry worksheets. Ask for volunteers to read their poems aloud to the class. After each student finishes reading, ask the class to point out one or two sensory details they heard in each poem. Address student questions as needed.