Creative Writing Lesson Plan for Upper Elementary Students: Using the Five Senses in Descriptive Writing

Human beings, like all living creatures, have five senses. Talk about the five senses with elementary students. Ask them what words come to mind when the teacher says, “Smell.” Examples of responses include “sniff” and “fragrance.” Do this for all five senses: sight, smell, touch, hear, and taste. Record their answers on the chalkboard.


Divide worksheets into five sections. (Could be five columns, or five bubbles, as long as each worksheet has a line for the object and five sections.) Each section is labeled with one of the five senses.

Pick an object and have students write descriptive words in each of the five sections. Remind them that they may not actually taste anything without permission! Each student should write at least three words under each sense.

Example: Object is salt.

Looks like: white, small, shiny.

Feels like: grainy, soft, slips through my fingers.

Tastes like: bitter, salty, bad.

Sounds like: quiet, rustle, silent.

Smells like: faint, odorless, mildly bitter.

Have the class do this for a variety of objects, for example:

  • Rock
  • Flower
  • Pencil
  • Sugar
  • Cucumber

Group Challenge

When the students have the hang of it, let them each privately think of an object to describe. They quietly fill in the bubbles for the five senses. They are not to tell each other what object they chose.

Collect the papers, and mix them up. Then, choose one and read the descriptive words for each of the five senses. Let students raise their hands to try to guess the object being described.

After doing this a few times, let the students think of another object, and try again. Repeat the process.

When finished, ask them if it was easier to come up with descriptive words the second time around. Ask them what they got out of the activity, such as an appreciation for the importance of good description.

Pair Challenge

Have students choose a partner, or divide them into pairs. Each student must silently choose any object to describe. Each student fills in all of the five bubbles with at least three descriptive words.

Students trade papers and try to guess each other’s object.

After, they can think of another object and repeat the process.

Gather the students back together and ask them if the second time was easier. Let them discuss as a group what they got out of the assignment.

This post is part of the series: Creative Writing Prompts

Ideas and Lesson Plans for Elementary Teachers to keep their young writers’ creative juices flowing.
  1. Creative Writing Prompts: Using Dreams, Music, and Free Association
  2. Upper Elementary Writing Lesson Plan: Writing With All Five Senses