Visualization Movie Magic!

Reading to Learn Lesson Design

Maegan Dennis


Rationale: When students read fluently, they can start reading to learn. In order to do this though, they need to be taught strategies to help them better comprehend a text. When students are able to visualize a text, they are able to better monitor their reading which makes comprehension easier. Skilled readers visualize by picturing the story in their head like a movie. In this lesson, students will practice doing this by reading a poem and a chapter of a book and visualizing what the words mean. They will also be listening to passages with inconsistencies to check to see if they are visualizing.



-"Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out" by Shel Silverstein broken into four sections to be read by the teacher on a slide in PowerPoint.

-Student copies of The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis

-Art supplies for students (crayons, markers, colored pencils, pencils)

-PowerPoint with vocabulary words and definitions

-1 Piece of white paper for each student's drawing

-Lined paper for each student's description of their visualization



1. Say: Sometimes when we're reading, it's hard to understand what's happening in a story. But if we use our imagination to paint a picture of the story in our mind, it's easier to follow along with a story and understand what it's about. This is called visualizing. Visualizing can help us make the story seem more real, and can help us remember the story that we read. Today we are going to be practicing visualizing. First I am going to show you how I do it, and then I'm going to let you read with a partner and visualize the story together.  


2. Say: Ok, let me show you how I visualize when I read. What I am about to read to you is my favorite poem. It is called "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out," and it is by Shel Silverstein. The poem is about a little girl who does not take the garbage out, and it fills up her home. [Read first section of text. After reading, close your eyes and explain to students what you see.] I see a kitchen with a garbage can that has garbage piled up to the ceiling, with all kinds of trash in it. I also see a little girl who is getting in trouble with her dad for not taking out the garbage. [Read section two of the poem, and then model visualization for the students] Now I'm adding some more trash to the picture in my head. The trash is piling up everywhere, and there is so much that it is breaking the house apart!


3. Say: Now let's do the next section together. I'm going to read the next part to you, and I want you to listen to what I am reading, and add you movie in your head of what is happening to Sarah. When I finish, I'm going to ask for some volunteers to share, so listen carefully. Go ahead and close your eyes so you can really see the story.  [Read section three of the text.] Now I want you to close your eyes and add some more details to the picture that's in your head. What are some of the things that you are seeing? Is there a movie playing in your head of what is happing in Sarah's house? Would anyone like to share what they saw in their head when I was reading? Great! That was awesome visualization!


5. Now I am going to read you a short description and I want you to visualize what I am saying in your head to see if it makes sense.  You can close your eye is it helps you to be able to picture it better. "The warm rain splattered onto the wet pavement. Judy decided to leave her green umbrella inside and go out in her black fur coat." Can you see this in your head? Does it make sense? Right! It doesn't make sense. If there was warm rain falling, Judy would not need a winter fur coat, she would need her umbrella and maybe even some rain boots. Great job!  


4. Now that we have had a little practice with visualization, we are almost ready to split into groups and try it on your own. First, we need to go over a few vocabulary words that might make it easier for you to understand the story.

            -Nuisance- a nuisance is a person or a thing that is annoying, obnoxious, or unpleasant. A nuisance wouldn't be someone or something that you liked, but it would be something like an annoying bee that won't leave you alone, or a younger sibling that keeps trying to steal the remote from you. Which one of these is a nuisance? A loud ringing noise that wont stop, or the smell of a delicious pie in your house? Finish this sentence: My brother was being a nuisance because he. . . [review each vocabulary word in this manner after introducing the definition]

            -Ostentatious- Ostentatious means something that is flashy or showy that doesn't have to be, like a large diamond ring or a car with lots of expensive parts on it. [review the vocabulary word in the same manner as the first]

            -Unbounded- Something that is unbounded does not have any limits. It goes on forever, and never comes to an end. It is infinite. [review the vocabulary word in the same manner as the first]

            -Twopence- A twopence is the sum of two British pennies. [review the vocabulary word in the same manner as the first]

            -Solemn- This word means something that is very serious and dignified. [review the vocabulary word in the same manner as the first]

[Go over each vocabulary word, and make sure to answer any questions that the students may have about the meanings of them. Also, make sure that students know they can refer back to the PowerPoint when they need to.]


5. Say: Now we are going to work in pairs to visualize some of The Magician's Nephew. We are on chapter nine of this book, and this chapter is a great place to practice visualizing! When we left the story, Digory, Polly, and the rest of the gang had just made it to the new land. They are watching the lion pacing back and forth, singing his song that sis bringing the land to life. You and your partner are going to work together to read the chapter. One partner will read a page, and then the other partner will read the next page. You will alternate pages until the end of the chapter. After each page, talk with your partner for about a minute about what you're a visualizing to see if your movies are about the same. They won't be exactly the same, but they should be similar since you are reading the same story. If you get stuck on a part, try to talk it out or go back and read it again to see if you missed any important information. Make sure you are really thinking about what is going on, because when you and your partner are done reading, you are going to pick your favorite section from the chapter to draw a picture of.


6. Say: Now that you are done reading, I want you to think back on the chapter. What is your favorite scene from the movie you were visualizing? On the piece of paper that I'm giving you, I want you to draw this scene. Include as much detail as you can remember from your reading. Try to make your picture so that someone who had not read this chapter could understand what it was about. After you are finished with your drawing, I want you to write a paragraph explaining what the scene is in your picture. You can refer back to your book if you need to, but try to remember as much as you can from what you read. Make sure you take your time with both parts of this, because we are going to hang these up so that other people can see what we are reading! [As the students are working on their drawings and writings, walk around the room and answer questions as needed. After all students are finished, have them share their drawings, and see if the other students can guess what scene is depicted just from looking. The drawings and descriptions should be used as an assessment piece to see if students understand what they are reading, and to make sure they are using their new strategy of visualization. The assessment is whether or not the student connected the picture they drew to the text they read, and whether their drawing makes sense and reflects their picture. Use the assessment checklist to assess each student's drawing, and their comprehension.]


Assessment Checklist:


­­­­­_________ Did student draw a picture?

_________ Does the picture relate to the chapter?

_________ Does the picture depict what was read in the chapter?

_________ Did the student include a description paragraph?

_________ Does the paragraph show comprehension of the chapter?

_________ Can student find inconsistency in the following through visualization? "The bright summer sun was shining down on the hot sand at Wavy Beach. Jen grabbed her orange raincoat and headed down the boardwalk to the beach."



Lights! Camera! Imgination! By Elizabeth Bryant


"Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out" by Shel Silverstein taken from Where the Sidewalk Ends, Harper and Row Publishers, 1974


The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis, HarperCollins Publishers, 1955


Pressley, Michael. "Strategies That Improve Children's Memory and Comprehension of Text." The Elementary School Journal. Volume 90: 1. University of Western Ontario, 1989.


Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out


Section 1:

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout

Would not take the garbage out!

She'd scour the pots and scrape the pans,

Candy the yams and spice the hams,

And though her daddy would scream and shout,

She simply would not take the garbage out.

And so it piled up to the ceilings:

Coffee grounds, potato peelings,

Brown bananas, rotten peas,

Chunks of sour cottage cheese.


Section 2:

It filled the can, it covered the floor,

It cracked the window and blocked the door

With bacon rinds and chicken bones,

Drippy ends of ice cream cones,

Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel,

Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal,

Pizza crusts and withered greens,

Soggy beans and tangerines,

Crusts of black burned buttered toast,

Gristly bits of beefy roasts. . .

The garbage rolled on down the hall,

It raised the roof, it broke the wall. . .


Section 3:

Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs,

Globs of gooey bubble gum,

Cellophane from green baloney,

Rubbery blubbery macaroni,

Peanut butter, caked and dry,

Curdled milk and crusts of pie,

Moldy melons, dried-up mustard,

Eggshells mixed with lemon custard,

Cold french fried and rancid meat,

Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat.

At last the garbage reached so high

That it finally touched the sky.


Section 4:

And all the neighbors moved away,

And none of her friends would come to play.

And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said,

"OK, I'll take the garbage out!"

But then, of course, it was too late. . .

The garbage reached across the state,

From New York to the Golden Gate.

And there, in the garbage she did hate,

Poor Sarah met an awful fate,

That I cannot now relate

Because the hour is much too late.

But children, remember Sarah Stout

And always take the garbage out!


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