Five Senses ESL Writing Activity

Here is a fun writing activity that encourages students to write more descriptively using all five of their senses with a piece of chocolate.

Student Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Age Group: Adults

Five Senses Writing Activity

Five Senses Writing Activity Preparation:

Pick up some chocolate from your local convenience store. Those small individually wrapped pieces of chocolate usually work best for most scenarios. If budget is a concern, you could supplement the chocolate with some cheap candy or even use a beverage if you prefer.

Five Senses Writing Activity Guidelines:

When class begins, it would be a good idea to show the class some examples of descriptive writing using the senses. If possible, try comparing writing styles that use more colorful language versus writing that uses less description.

Elicit the five senses that we use in our daily lives: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. You could draw a simple diagram on the board or use some other type of visual technique to elicit the senses if you like.

Enforce the idea that sometimes writing can be much more powerful and effective when we use descriptive adjectives that appeal to our five senses. For this activity, students are going to elevate their creative writing skills by analyzing how chocolate tastes, smells, feels, and looks. If possible, could even have them describe how it “sounds.”

Have the students write down the five sensory categories on a piece of paper. You could create a customized handout with the categories on it before class if you want.

Next, hand out the wrappers of chocolate to each student. However, tell them they can’t eat it until the end of the activity.

Model the first sense on the list for them to complete the first category. Unwrap the chocolate. If the first sense on the list is “smell,” then demonstrate the task by smelling the chocolate in your hand. Write on the board a number of adjectives and similes that come to mind about the scent of the chocolate. Elicit more descriptive words from the students. Try to list as many as you can.

After demonstrating what to do with the first sense, have the class perform the same task for the other four senses in their groups. It would be a good idea to set a time limit for each category and lead feedback for each section after the time is up.

By the end, the students will have compiled an extensive list of descriptive words and phrases for how chocolate appeals to their five senses. Remember to make sure that the last sense that they describe is about how the chocolate TASTES. If you do that one first then there will be nothing to describe for the other four senses because the chocolate will already be in their stomachs!

To complete the five senses writing activity, have the class write a descriptive paragraph about chocolate using the lists that were compiled during the activity. Assign it for homework if you run out of time. Perhaps for some extra motivation, you could reward the students with the most impressive paragraphs will a big chocolate bar.

Follow-Up ESL Activities:

As an extension to the lesson, you could do a similar activity with a beverage, like instant coffee or tea. Students could use anything that they have in their bag or supply them with something to describe if they don’t have anything on them. Alternatively, you could try the TED Talk Listening Activity to improve their listening skills relating to talks about the five senses.

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