Sense of Sight



By Michelle Lynn Senters-

For the next several days, you will train your brain to think like a writer.

We use our five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing) to gather information about the world around us. Most of the time, we gather this information without much thought.

For example, I might go outside and observe a bird sitting and squawking on my front porch. My mind thinks about it momentarily before I move on to other thoughts.

If I go outside and think like a writer, however, I observe the bird at a deeper level. I see that her feathers are puffed up and the way she quickly moves across the banister. I notice the urgency of her voice. I realize she is irritated with a squirrel that is climbing near her nest. My writer’s mind sees the larger story.


Today, we will focus on the sense of sight. To think like a writer, we must train our eyes and mind to observe closely. Use the following questions to help you.


  • What do I see? (the subject- example: person, animal, bug)
  • What does it look like?
  • What is it doing?
  • Example: The bird is squawking on the front porch. 


  • What details do I notice?
  • Why is the subject doing that?
  • What is affecting the subject? (setting, other “characters”)
  • What is the subject thinking or feeling?
  • What might happen next?
  • Example: The bird’s feathers are fluffed. He is moving quickly across the bannister, moving his head up and down. A squirrel chirps back as it runs up a tree. The bird seems anxious and irritated. The squirrel hurries toward the nest. I think the bird might fly to the squirrel and scare it away. 


  • What is the object’s story?
  • Why is this story significant to myself or others?
  • Example: The momma bird protects and cares for her young, just as I protect and care for my children. Our stories are similar in that way.


  • What is the larger story?
  • How do I put it into words?
  • Example: (This is where it takes time. As a writer, I must allow my observations to grow into a larger story. I will work on this today, just like you. Check back later to see my paragraph/story in the comment section below.)


  1. Bring a notepad and pen to a location you choose. You can be inside or outside.
  2. Choose one animal, object, or person to observe. (examples: a cat playing with a toy, a bug crawling on the sidewalk, a leaf blowing in the wind, your brother playing video games)
  3. Observe, using the guideline above.
  4. Document your observations.
  5. Using your observations as a guideline, write a thoughtful paragraph about your animal, object, or person. Tell the larger story.


Write your first name, age, and paragraph in the comment section below. Post your best work. Don’t forget to read and comment on other paragraphs posted.

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Michelle Lynn Senters is the Founder and Director of KIDS ARE WRITERS. She spends her days working as a Reading Interventionist and spends her evenings writing books for children and adults. You can learn more about Michelle HERE and at

IMPORTANT: Students, NEVER reveal personal information while commenting. NO last names or contact information. I will delete any comments that contain personal information or comments that are inappropriate or off-topic.

4 thoughts on “Sense of Sight

  1. Erik, 12:
    At first glance, the pine tree appears still. But, if you look real hard, you can see the needles swaying the breeze. It is a comforting sight, One I will always enjoy. Some needles move individually, some as a whole. It matters not. They are all unique, like humans,

    • Beautiful writing, Erik. It reminds me of what a young Henry David Thoreau might write about. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” from Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

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