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Activity Idea: Sensory Poem (Quick Tip)

Needs: deck of sensory cards, pencils, paper, sensory poem template

This activity encourages students to generate descriptive words by using their senses and their imagination. It can be modified for pairs, small groups, or to be done individually (depending on age/grade of group). Ultimately, students are asked to consider a work of art through the five senses and to generate ideas and words for each sensory exploration. These observations are compiled to create a sensory poem in response to the work of art (either whole group, in small groups or pairs).

Here’s one possible way to facilitate the activity:

Ask students to quietly observe the work of art and look closely at the details. (Could even play a quick game of I Spy to get them looking closely.) Then, have a brief conversation about the five senses, and introduce the next activity, which will encourage them to use their senses and imagination to connect with the work of art.

Have students get into groups of five. Pass out a set of 5 senses cards to each group — one card per student. (If the groups aren’t large enough, then students may receive more than one sense card.) Each person in the group will have a Sensory Card for which he/she is responsible for contributing ideas. Next, ask the students to:

  • Look at the work of art and make a list of words or phrases using their assigned sense. Encourage them to use their imagination and to pretend they are in the work of art. What would you see? Hear? Feel? Smell? Taste? They should make a list of ideas or words related to their specific Sensory Card.
  • Talk about their sensory cards in relation to the work of art (have them take turns inside their group, ensuring that each member gets to share with their group. You may need to provide reminders throughout to keep them on task and moving along.)
  • Ask them to create a collaborative sensory poem, highlighting some of the ideas they generated for each sense. Use the template:

We hear _____

We smell _____

We see _____

We feel _____

We taste _____

Next, have each group share their collaborative sensory poem with the whole group.