Descriptive Writing: Sensory Details

Contributor: Delaine Thomas. Lesson ID: 12306

You know what really stinks? Not being able to describe something in writing! Do you see what I mean? Are you hearing me? Learn to write in a way that touches your readers and grabs their attention!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio: Image - Button Play
Image - Lession Started Image - Button Start

What if you came upon this scene? Could you use your five senses to describe the situation when you write to your friends about it? You have to make them think they are there in person!

A descriptive paragraph is a piece of writing about a person, place, memory, or situation that you describe in detail.

When you write a descriptive paragraph, you will use sensory details to create a clear picture of the person, place, memory, or situation. The five senses are taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell.

In this first lesson of our Descriptive Writing series, you will identify sensory words that describe a place. Set a timer for one minute. Describe the room you are in to your teacher using your five senses:

  • Where are you at this moment? Are you in the living room, kitchen, an office, your bedroom, or at a library?
  • Walk around the room.
  • What do you see?
  • What do you hear?
  • What do you smell?
  • What items can you touch that have different textures?
  • Is there anything in the room to taste? If so, what does it taste like?

In this Descriptive Essay by Shmoop video, you will get a better understanding of how to use descriptive words to write a short essay about a person or place. As you watch this video, notice sensory words that are used to describe the cat in the video:

Image - Video


What are some of the sensory words used to describe the cat? Did you remember any of the sensory descriptions? Here are some that were said:

  • puking hairballs
  • leaves slimy saliva on my arm
  • smells of rotten fish

The main thing to remember is to engage your reader’s five senses.

You also want to use some of these strategies:

  1. Surprise the reader.
  2. Provide unique and memorable details.
  3. Engage the reader's five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing.
  4. Make your readers live your experience.
  5. Pay close attention to your language.
  6. Use similes or metaphors to compare one thing to another to liven up descriptions.
  7. Keep it focused.
  8. Describe in a sentence or two your purpose for writing the essay.

Now that you have some ideas of ways to use your senses to engage a reader, move on to the Got It? section to practice.

Image - Button Next