Write a

Write a Paragraph Using 5 Senses Details

(A One and Only Ivan Creative Writing Lesson)

Grade Level: 6

Subject: English/Language Arts

               Write a Narrative Paragraph Using 5 Senses Details

Duration:45-60 minutes

DOK Level: 3

SAMR Level: Substitution

Iowa Standard: W.6.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well–structured event sequences.

  1. Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
  2. Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, and description, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
  3. Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence and signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another.
  4. Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to convey experiences and events.
  5. Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.

Objective: Students will write a narrative paragraph using 5 senses details.


  1. When the students have completed their reading of the novel, introduce the paragraph writing assignment.  Explain that they will be writing AS the character Ivan, describing a day in his "domain".  Brainstorm adjectives related to each of the five senses to begin the creative process.
  2.  Bring in the following 5 senses supplies: As students rotate through the sensory stations, they should be thinking about applicable descriptive words throughout each of the sensory experiences.

~ For feeling/touch: Have a container that's either held or placed high enough out of reach that the students cannot see inside.  Have them take turns feeling the objects and trying to (silently) identify those things which Ivan may have touched.  Items should include crayon stubs, a paintbrush, hay/straw, glass (no sharp edges), a banana peel...

~ For smelling: it may be difficult (and unpleasant) to capture the scent of gorilla or elephant, so I would use a damp container that has been sealed tightly for a few days.  It should smell damp and stale, similar to the air around their cages in the "mall".

 ~ For “sounds like”: tap or pound on the window (students should be facing forward with eyes closed when you do this).  I could also play a faint circus or elevator-style music in the background.

~ For tasting: give each student half a banana.  Depending on allergies, they could also snack on peanuts (or candy circus peanuts) as they begin their writing process.

~ For “looks like”: Provide a handout with images of gorillas, elephants, and Google images of the book characters

3.  Next up...FUN times, students will take notes while you introduce all of the 5 senses materials!  I do not tell what the items are or show what they are. I instruct students to keep their ideas about what the items are to themselves so that it does not ruin the fun or the sensory experience for others. 

4. Students are now ready to write an awesome descriptive narrative paragraph.

Product or Assessment: 5 senses notes; A paragraph using 5 senses details


1. Students could read their paragraphs to the class the following day.

2. A writing contest could be held. Post the paragraphs in the hallway for staff members to vote on a winner. Make sure you share the scoring rubric online to staff members and have a paper copy posted in the hallway too.

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