Explore Your 5 Senses

Explore Your 5 Senses

As promised, I’m going to describe how to use the 5 senses poetry exercise in a way that makes it super fun and easy to explore emotions.

You’re going to take the same basic template of exploring the 5 senses, but you’re going to focus more on feelings.

What you need:

Strips of paper
Pens, pencils, markers
Something to play the music on

The 5 senses:


  • Seeing
  • Feeling
  • Hearing
  • Tasting
  • Smelling


You’ll start by deciding what emotion you’d like to explore.

Once you decide, choose a song or piece of music that has that emotional vibe.

(As an example, when I’ve worked on anger with the kids I often used something by Saul Williams.  When I’ve worked on sadness, I tend to use someone like Sarah McClaughlin.  If you’re doing this for yourself, it’s really easy to choose music, because you’re going to choose a song that elicits the chosen emotion.  If you’re working with a group of kids or adults, you have to kind of go with a more general idea/vibe of an emotion.)

Next, you’ll take a moment to warm up your body, or warm up the group in general.  Stretch, move, walk, dance, however, it feels good to warm up.

Then you’ll put the music on.

Allow yourself or the group to move to the music.  You can move however it feels good

If you’re working with a group, they can interact or not depending on how you feel comfortable leading the group.

giphyYou’ll then play a little freeze dance with the music.  Every time you stop the music, the group stops and every time the music is on, they move.

If you’re doing this alone, you can simply leave the music on and stop and go as you feel like it.

You’ll graduate this freeze style dance to a place where when you are frozen you are frozen in a shape that resonates with the music and emotion.

After you’re comfortable with this, the next time you freeze in a shape, you’ll begin with one of the senses and explore your body and the emotion.

It’s easy to start with the sense of Seeing in this exercise.

You can look down at your body and describe what you see (tight fists, head down, etc)  you can use simile and metaphor too!  (Fists like a boxer, my head heavy like a boulder tipping off a cliff, etc)

Each phrase gets put on a strip of paper.

Start the music and move again/freeze again in a new pose.  This time explore a new sense.  Try exploring the sense of Feeling …

How does it feel to be in that posture … using all the same tools and the strips of paper.

Start the music and move/freeze again in a new pose.  This time explore the sense of Hearing.

As you go further into the senses you’re asking yourself to be more creative and imaginative, allowing your body to inform you as you move and freeze to the music.

giphy-tumblrYou’re also gathering lots of strips of paper.

If you’re working with a group, I would often go around and record all the phrases for everyone as they stayed in their shape … it makes it easier for a larger group!


When all of the senses are finished, you’ll move on to the next part of the process, creating a poem about the emotion or feeling.

This process is exactly the same as for the clementine poem:

The basic process is to collect and place in order the strips of paper to create a poem.  The reason you use strips of paper is so you can easily change the order of lines, add or omit as it feels good.

If you are doing this by yourself go ahead and start putting together the strips of paper that speak to you together, gather the ones you really like or that piss you off or whatever criteria you feel like using.  Once you have the strips you’d like to use … however many there may be (there’s no wrong way to do this!), you’ll start putting them into an order that feels good and sounds good to you … omit, add anytime you’d like until you have your poem.  Once it’s finished write down the final poem on a full sheet of paper.  You have the be-all-end-all veto power … so change and shift it as you like … the strips of paper become your skeleton and you can dress them up or down as you like.

If you’re doing this with a group or with your kids you do it in a Round Robin style.  I let kids each pick and choose one at a time to create the group poem.  I usually make sure each child has at least one of their lines in the poem as well.  It isn’t always easy with a bigger group, just make sure that every child has a chance to add or omit whatever they would like, one at a time.

This exercise explores the 5 senses and gives an opportunity to talk more about simile, metaphor, onomatopoeia and description.

** But it has the added benefit of exploring emotions and how they sit in our bodies, how to move them and how to transform them.  If you’d like to go deeper … you can!  

If there’s a lot of interest in how to move this deeper, I’ll do some more posts on it … comment below if you’re interested in going deeper (such a therapist term … LOL!)

This process is so absolutely versatile and can be used in so many creative and therapeutic ways!

Have fun with it!

I’m also going to post below 2 group poems, Fear and Happiness from a class I worked with years ago … to give you an idea as to how these can come out when working authentically and openly with yourself and others … These were 3rd-grade students


Drip Drop
In the sink, we found a mystery
Drip Drop
Blood on the floor
A monster in the closet
Boom Boom
I found a mystery
He was Bloody Mary
I screamed out loud
Bowed down
“Please please”
I fade into a nightmare death
Covered face
Crumpled into a knuckled fist
“Let me live”
Scared as a slave whipped
Whish Whish
I don’t want to die
On my knees


I am eating my favorite food.
It tastes like giant cheese balls and cheddar
In the aisles of Toys R Us
Big eyes spread wide
Over Mp3 Players
And Action figures
Wrestling inside their boxes
Arms spreading out
Reaching for the championship
Happiness feels like day dreaming
On a fluffy pillow cloud
Watching wind
Seeing city
And people flying kites at the park.

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