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Ministry of Education.

Learning task 3: Senses

Context: Writing a poem as a class, then an individual poem

Sensory stimuli are collected - eg. each student brings in a 'smell' that reminds them of something (eg. bleach for hospitals, sunblock for summer)

Smells are passed around. Focus is on individual memories, associations, evocations.

A smell is chosen that has resonance for a lot of the class (sunblock is good in Hawke's Bay!). The class develop a sensory poem as follows:
Brainstorm other sensory impressions of association.

  • Title establishes memory.
    • Summer
  • First line evokes sense of smell.
    • the smell of sunblock
  • Other sensory impressions are used to create rest of poem.
    • gritty
    • sunblock sand on
    • your skin etc

One poem developed as a class, then students work on their own poem, using the class one as a model and choosing another smell.

Students can, if they wish, develop these poems using more of their own ideas and creativity.

Students shape their poems into a form of their choice, to share the feelings and images associated with the poem. First drafts are discussed in pairs and groups, edited and re-worked.


Students can move from concrete sense impressions and images to more abstract ideas; associating the senses with ideas. This is a poem from a year 10 student using this extension:

I smell of greed,
 and of the need to grab, snatch and take for myself,
 You can hear me clink and rustle in your pocket.
 I am all colours
 But mostly green, pale and dark, black,
 I taste like sand, dry with the flavour of sin.
 I feel like the blade of a knife
 slicing your tongue
 burning a hole in your pocket,
 Who rules the world,
 I do

For a variety of other excellent approaches see  Rite Poem  (30 kB) from NZ performance poet keith_thorsen (RTF 8KB) .

Published on: 21 Apr 2009