The Five Senses - Intermediate High

Positive Psychology Learning Outcomes: Students will identify their own senses, recognize their surroundings, and use grounding techniques to counter anxiety. Language Learning Outcomes: Students will describe in all major time frames about familiar, general, and academic topics; understand explicit and implicit major details; and adequately support ideas and opinions with facts, examples, and reasons.

Lesson information

Positive Psychology Learning Outcomes

Students will...

  1. identify their own senses.
  2. recognize their surroundings.
  3. use grounding techniques to counter anxiety.

Language Learning Outcomes

Students will...

  1. describe in all major time frames about familiar, general, and academic topics.
  2. understand explicit and implicit major details.
  3. adequately support ideas and opinions with facts, examples, and reasons.

Materials Needed


Being aware and appreciative of the world around us is key to well-being and happiness. We usually perceive the world through our five senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch.  Explain to students that today we are going to talk about being more aware of things around us by focusing on our five senses. Explain that we will also be using our five senses to help us calm down when we are nervous or feeling strong emotions. This can help us especially when we are learning a new language.

Activate Background Knowledge

Ask students to discuss the following questions with a partner. Before they begin to discuss, model possible answers for students.

  • What makes you nervous?
    • Ex. Giving presentations in class makes me nervous OR Taking the TOEFL makes me nervous.
  • What physical reactions do you have when you are nervous?
    • Ex. My heart beats really fast OR I feel sick
  • How does being nervous affect your ability to do well?
    • Ex. When I am nervous I forget what I studied OR When I am nervous I can’t focus.

Explain to students that being mindful or aware of ourselves and the things around us can help us calm down when we are nervous.

Activity 1: Listening and Vocabulary

What are the five senses? Use the following video (play from 0:00-1:25) to help explain what each sense is and examples of how we can use it. 

Explore Beyond Your Door - Episode 5: Exploring the Five Senses 

After viewing, review with students what they understood. What are the five senses? What are some examples of how we can use them?

Have students discuss this question in small groups. Model possible responses before splitting them into groups (ex. When I am nervous, I can’t focus and I look around a lot.)

  • How does being nervous affect our five senses?

Encourage students to support their ideas with examples and reasons.

Activity 2: Vocabulary/Grammar

Explain to students that talking about the five senses uses different verbs: be, see, look, hear, listen, taste, smell, and feel. After showing slide 8 with the list of these verbs, state that see and listen are different and will be explained later on. 

Using slides 8-13, review which verbs are used for which sense. 

Continue to explain that talking about the five senses also involves a lot of descriptive adjectives. Common endings of adjectives are -y, -able/ible, -ous, -ed, -ing, -ic. 

Give students the Five Senses Adjective Handout. Split the class into small groups and have them work together to categorize each adjective under a sense. One handout per group will be enough, but giving one to each student is also an option. Demonstrate an example first if needed. Example: “sweet” can be used to describe the taste. 

Note* Students may need to use other resources (dictionary, translation, etc.) to help them with this activity.

  • Loud
  • Sweet
  • Sour
  • Silent
  • Soft
  • Bright
  • Bumpy
  • Noisy
  • Long 
  • Shiny
  • Large
  • Stinky
  • Smelly
  • Small
  • Hard
  • Silky
  • Dry
  • Quiet
  • Chewy
  • Crunchy
  • Heavy
  • Dark
  • Delicious
  • Squeaky
  • Spicy
  • Stale
  • Spikey
  • Sticky
  • Salty
  • Bitter
  • Fizzy
  • Smoky
  • Warm
  • Cold
  • Smooth
  • Thick
  • Thin
  • Round
  • Square
  • Flat
  • Bent
  • Symmetrical

Activity 3: Listening 

Explain that we will now describe things using our five senses in a technique called “grounding.” Begin by asking students what they think “grounding” could mean. Have them talk with a partner and encourage them to use their knowledge of morphemes to infer the meaning.

Then, explain to the students that they will now watch a video that discusses “grounding” (students still do not know the full meaning). 

Give each student a 5-4-3-2-1 Notes Handout. On this sheet of paper, they need to write down 1) what grounding helps us do and 2) what each number means and examples of each number. 

*Note: The video does not directly say what grounding means, but instead gives what it can help us do. This will encourage students to listen for implicit details.

The 5-4-3-2-1 Method: A Grounding Exercise to Manage Anxiety

After watching the video, have students review their notes with a partner. Then discuss as a class what 1) grounding means (show the definition on slide 9) and 2) what each number means with examples.

Activity 4: Speaking

After learning about what grounding means, have students discuss the following question:

  • Learning a language is stressful. How can we use grounding techniques to help us?

Discuss the question as a class. Encourage students to support their ideas with examples and reasons. Some examples might include before taking a test, when you have a bad day in class, doing a presentation, etc.

Explain that students will now practice grounding techniques, first with a partner then by themselves.

5 - Identify and describe five things you can see in the room. (use adjectives!)

4 - Point out and describe four things you can feel.

3 - Listen for and describe three things you can hear.

2 - Detect and describe two things you can smell. 

*students may need to pick something up to smell it

If possible, for this part hand out a small snack students can taste, such as gum, chocolate, hard candy, etc. If not, have students imagine the taste of something they love.

1 - Put the snack in your mouth. Describe what you taste. 

Repeat the activity individually. As the teacher, guide the students through each step. You might want to move to a different location so students can practice describing different things. Remind students that this time, they will be silent while they think of their answers.

For the last step (taste), explain that students can think of a taste instead of actually eating something.


Have students respond to the following question by writing a list down:

  • What stressful activities do I have this week? 
    • Ex. taking the TOEFL, going on a date, giving a presentation, etc.

Tell students that their homework is to use grounding techniques when they feel nervous about these activities this week.



Have students stop whatever they are doing and simply look around the room. Give them about one minute and have them try to find something they have never noticed before inside the classroom. The teacher can demonstrate one thing as an example before beginning; this can be something as simple as “there’s a piece of tape on the wall.” After one minute, students can share with the class what they saw. 


Discussion question: A lot of times our memories are linked to smells and sounds and thinking about them also makes us more mindful of these moments.

  • What is your favorite smell and sound? 
  • Are there any specific memories or experiences that connect to those smells or sounds?


Follow up on the students’ experience using grounding techniques by asking the following questions:

  • When did you use the grounding technique this week? Describe your experience.
  • When did you feel nervous or anxious this week? How did this affect your day/week?

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