Using Sensory Adjectives to Write Descriptive Paragraphs

Objectives (SWBAT):

1. Define nouns and adjectives.

2. Differentiate between strong and weak adjectives for descriptive writing.

3. List sensory adjectives and descriptive phrases for a variety of nouns.

4. Use adjectives and descriptive phrases to write a descriptive paragraph  


1. Five Senses Chart

2. Sensory objects (see description and suggestions under the Introduction)

3. Pictures of interesting scenes or landscapes from the Internet or a magazine


Warm up:

  • Review the definitions of adjective and noun with students. Remind students that adjectives are words that describe nouns.
  • Review the purpose of descriptive writing. Remind students that good descriptive writing helps the reader to form a picture in his/her mind about what is being described.


  • Make a T-Chart on the board and put Nouns at the top of one column and Adjectives at the top of the other.
  • Ask students to give you an example of a noun to put in the first column. Then ask students to list as many adjectives as they can to describe that noun. (Example: Michael Jordan- famous, rich, bald, talented, athletic, entrepreneurial, tall, competitive)
  • Repeat several times using different types of nouns (i.e. use a person, a place and a thing).
  • Bring some sensory objects into class for the students to look at, touch, smell, etc. These should be objects that appeal to more than one sense. Some suggested sensory objects: a brightly colored silk scarf, a pinecone, an abalone shell, or a dish of potpourri.
  • Write a very generic sentence on the board to describe one of the objects. For example, “The shell is pretty.” Ask students if the sentence effectively describes the object. When the students say no, challenge them to write 1 or 2 better sentences using strong descriptive adjectives.

 Guided Practice:

  • If necessary, quickly go over what is meant by the five senses. Then distribute the Five Senses Chart.
  • Explain that sensory adjectives are adjectives that appeal to the five senses. They are words that describe the way a noun smells, sounds, feels, tastes and looks.
  • Give students four nouns to put into the chart. Some suggested nouns to use: chocolate, rose, fire, and grass. Direct students to fill in each column of the chart with an adjective or descriptive phrase for the noun. Encourage them to use strong, concrete adjectives for this activity. It can be useful to have some dictionaries and/or thesauruses on hand in the classroom.
  • Share the completed charts in small groups or with the whole class.

 Independent Practice:

  • Find some pictures of interesting scenes or landscapes. Try using National Geographic magazines. Gather enough pictures so that you have one for each student. 
  • Direct the students to write a descriptive paragraph using the picture they are given.  Students should imagine themselves in the picture. Tell them to describe what they see; what they smell; what they hear; what they taste; and what they touch.


  • Display the pictures around the classroom. Read aloud or distribute copies of the descriptive paragraphs. Have the students match the paragraphs with the correct picture.

Link to original OER resource "I Spy": Using adjectives and descriptive phrases

Download: 5 Senses Chart.docx

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