Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Descriptive Writing: Using Your Five Senses

One of the best lessons I've ever had to be honest! I think we had so much fun in 5 Bukhari today. Here's the lesson for you to try.

Duration: Double-period
Topic: Descriptive Writing (Describing a place)
post-it notes, A4 paper


1. Warmer: Provide each student with a post-it note. On the post-it note, write three adjectives to describe
    your partner next to you.
2. Stick the post-it note on your partner's back. SS mingle to find out the adjectives describing them. (5
    minutes) - the noise level was a bit over the top but the objective was achieved for this part of the lesson.        
    Some of the adjectives elicited were "arrogant", "fat", "fun-loving". Since I joined in the activity, Danial had
    to describe me and these were the words he chose to describe me-"rich" (LOL), "friendly" and "happy-

Danial's description of me...

3. Next, give each ss a blank A4 paper. Coloured ones are better but I ran out of them. Get ss to trace
    the outline of their hand on the paper. Then relate those fingers with the five senses. Get them to tell you
    the senses and write them on the board. The next step is to ask them to draw the five senses on each
    finger. They can write their name in the palm if they like. This activity is to sensitise them to the need to be
    vivid in descriptive writing, hence the use of the five senses. Here's an example:

4. Next, teacher writes a short description of a room on board and get students to identify the words/phrases
    that refer to the five senses. This was the passage I used (credit: 1119 English, Koh Suat Chin, Delta

   Ah Mui's room was very small and dark. Heng smelled cockroaches and urine. 
All the windows were close but some of the shutters were missing. The little 
baby was sleeping semi-naked on the cold, bare concrete floor. Loud Chinese
 opera music was coming from the next room.

5. Circle or underline the relevant words, if possible with different colours.
6. Next, put students in groups of 3-4. (I always change the composition of the group so students can learn
    as much as possible from different group members) Here is my list:
    a. A bedroom
    b. A Clinic
    c. A bus-stop
    d. A coffee shop
    e. Sea shore
    f. A doctor's waiting room
    g. A cinema
    h. A restaurant

7. Teacher lists out eight places (if you have 8 groups) on board. Each group chooses one place and
    describe the place in one paragraph using descriptive words/phrases. (20 minutes) Call a student from
    each group to read out his group's description. Comment on the description on the spot.
8. Get students to copy the description and submit to the teacher for evaluation.

Simple isn't it? The next lesson should be a follow-up of this lesson. Perhaps, ss can be given descriptive sentences and get ss to underline the descriptive words/phrases and then write a longer descriptive piece.

I left the class feeling satisfied (you know how some lessons 'fail' sometimes...) and really happy :) Objectives achieved! Go ahead, have a go and your feedback is most welcome. I would love this blog to be interactive  :)

The Thinking Teacher


  1. As salam,
    Madam Rahmah tq so much for sharing your ideas and its really help me a lot to improve my English

  2. wassallam rozanatullini,
    your're most welcome :)

  3. Salam Mdm, hopefully you are doing great...^^ I've conducted this lesson with my students but I've changed a bit...I distributed English novels and RD magazines, where ss have to go through pages randomly and find out descriptive phrases/words based on the five was really engaging...! However, it was time consuming, hence we didn't manage to complete the lesson in one lesson but ss managed to come out with abundance of interesting descriptive phrases/ words...such as, 'Incredible Hulk brief!'.. thank you for the sharing.. =)

    1. Dear saidatul. I'm fine ALhamdulillah. Hope you're good too. Yes I agree with you that you can also do it that way. Another method is using brochures. I collect these in hotels and get ss to select and list the decriptive words and phrases. I guess the next step is important..what do th ss do with those vocabulary?

    2. the next step is similar to the one that Mdm had planned...Ss (in groups of 3/4) have to produce a descriptive paragraph about a place listed above, using the descriptive phrases/words that they found in the novel/magazine...then, Ss shared their paragraph in FB so others can read too.. =)

    3. Great idea saidatul!! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. Hi!I think I've visited your blog before!=D This is interesting and will definitely try it soon!!!!Thank you and will let you know how it went!=D

    1. thanks for visiting Nancie :) Go ahead and try and don't forget to share your experience!


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