Descriptive Spies

Scripture: Numbers 13-14

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will use their five senses to come up with descriptions that improve the quality of their writing.
  • Students will review the spies’ mission to explore Canaan
  • Students will practice observation skills.

Guiding Question: How can we use our five senses to make our writing more descriptive and interesting?

Materials: scenic pictures that include images that evoke the five senses. Preferably choose pictures of a Middle Eastern oasis that would help students visualize the Promised Land. Paper and pencil for each student. Foods that they might have had in Israel such as grapes, figs, pomegranates, dates etc.

Procedure: Review how the spies were sent out by Moses to explore Canaan, which was the land God promised to give the Israelites. Their job was to report about what they saw. They had to be very descriptive to try and relay every detail. They needed to make their 40 day trip well worth the trek. Review Numbers 13:17-20 where Moses asked them questions of things he wanted to know. Explain that spies must be very observant since they were reporting to people who had not experienced what they saw. Tell students that they are going to get a chance to be observant like a spy. Show them a scenic picture. What senses can they use? What would the probably hear, taste, smell, see, feel? Pass out foods that would be in Israel so that they can use their sense of taste too (figs, grapes, pomegranates, dates).

They will turn their observations into descriptive writing. Give a scenic picture to each student or let 2-3 students share. (It is suggested not to have too many students share one picture so that they can be closer and more observant).

Share an example of descriptive writing with students. For example, ask which is more interesting: 1: I saw a forest. OR 2: There was a lush green forest with curved trees dripping with ripe pomegranates. Their bright, sweet juice burst in my mouth. The air felt warm and dry as sun rays tingled on my skin. A strange bird with an orange crown let out a whistle nearby.

Have students write a paragraph to describe their picture. Optional: Provide a checklist with the five senses and have students check off each time that they use a sense.

Additional Questions:

  • What senses are easiest to describe?
  • What was your favorite description? Why?
  • How can this help you with future writing?
  • Why was it important for the spies to be descriptive?

Supplemental Activity: Play a game where students practice descriptive language. Divide students into partners. One student has to describe something and the other partner has to guess what they are describing. After each wrong guess, another description is added. When it is guessed correctly, then they switch roles. This will help students become more specific in their language use.

Written by: Savannah Negas