Sensory Details

Contributor: Erin Jones. Lesson ID: 11803

Our five senses are what help us experience the world around us. If you want someone to share an experience that's important to you, what better way than to have them sense what you sensed? Learn how!

categories

Writing

subject
English / Language Arts
learning style
Visual
personality style
Otter, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Sensory details are words in writing that help you imagine what things look, sound, smell, taste, and feel like. They make stories more interesting by helping you picture scenes better.

For example, saying a lemon is sour, a rose petal is soft, or rain makes a tapping noise on the window are all sensory details. They help you feel like you're really there in the story.

Before you learn how to use your five senses in your writing, review what they are with this silly song.

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When great writers use sensory writing, they incorporate the five senses into their narratives to make the reader feel like they are in that moment.

The following example includes pronounced sensory detail.

I looked around the brightly lit classroom to find 20 pairs of eyes glaring at me in anticipation. Susie Smith, the smartest kid in the class, who happened to sit directly in front of me, turned her head so quickly that her thin, brown ponytail nearly smacked me across the face. She gave me a wicked little toothless smirk as her eyes flickered behind her thick, black plastic-framed glasses.

I dug my thumbnail into the soft, yellow-painted wood of my number two pencil. I felt the fire of embarrassment burn in my cheeks. I looked down feverishly at my paper as I tried to sweep away the pink and black swirled bits of rolled eraser. I could still smell the rubber and graphite mix that had once been my attempt at the answer.

"Um," my voice trembled. "32?" I squeaked, questioning my response.

I still felt those eyes bearing down on me like I was wearing 100 wool sweaters in the dead of summer. I sat with my head lowered, my eyes fixed on my eraser-smudged paper for an eternity. The room was silent except for the ticking of the clock—tick, tick, tick.

"That's correct. Who would like to answer number eight?"

The room was filled with "Ooos" and "Pick me." I suddenly felt lighter; the dryness in my mouth began to fade along with the flush in my face

The author appeals to all five senses in this writing example.

  • Can you find them all?

Use these questions to guide your thinking.

  • What did the author see?
  • What did the author hear?
  • What did the author touch?
  • What did the author taste?
  • What did the author smell?

The author saw a brightly lit classroom with 20 pairs of eyes glaring at them, Susie Smith turning her head quickly, Susie's thick black plastic-framed glasses, and her toothless smirk.

The author heard the silence in the room except for the clock ticking—tick, tick, tick, and later, the "Ooos" and "Pick me" from the classmates.

The author touched the soft, yellow-painted wood of the number two pencil and the pink and black swirled bits of rolled eraser on the paper.

The author tasted the dryness in their mouth.

The author smelled the rubber and graphite mix from the eraser.

Youngster, studying, using a pen and paper at their desk, answering a question on arithmetic. A young pupil who is perplexed and needs help with the classroom

As the author, you can include sensory details that best explain the event to your reader. You may choose to include all senses in your seed story, or you may choose to include one. It's up to you!

You're the author, but use relevant sensory details.

In the Got It? section, you will practice identifying sensory writing and practice writing your sensory details.

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