This I Gotta See!


Reading to Learn

Emily Lusher


Rationale: After becoming expert readers, children must be introduced to different tools and skills to help increase their level of comprehension after reading text.  Visualization is an important skill that allows children clearly see the images they are reading about.  The ability to visualize can help a child place themselves in a story or passage to fully comprehend its meaning.  Letting students record their visualizations through an artistic medium allows the teacher a glimpse at what is going on in the mind of each child.  In this lesson, students will record images they visualize from reading poetry and share them with their peers.  This practice can introduce the children to the different perspectives and understandings of their fellow students.


"Sick"-Shel Silverstein (a copy for each child)

"One Inch Tall"-Shel Silverstein (a copy for each child)

Smartboard or whiteboard

Copy paper

Pencils, crayons, markers, colored pencils

Assessment checklist:

Comprehension Questions



Does the picture depict an image from the poem?



Is the picture easily recognizable?



Are details from the poem present in the picture?



Did the student provide an explanation or quote from the poem to go with the picture?



Does the explanation/quote match the picture?




Procedure: 1. Say: "Who can tell me what it means to visualize something?  Visualization is the process of creating a picture or movie in your mind from the words that you have read in a book or story.  Authors use imagery, groups of words that help us create these pictures, to help us better understand the story they are trying to tell us.  By visualizing what is happening in a story we are able to keep track of what is going on.  Today, we will be reading two poems by the author Shel Silverstein.  He is an imagery master; he uses words and phrases that make it very easy to visualize whatever he is talking about in his poems."

2. Say: "There are some words in his poems that you may not know too much about.  In our first poem, the main character claims that her, 'back is wrenched.'  Wrenched means twisted or sprained.  'As I was taking my morning jog, I fell and felt a wrench in my ankle.'  If someone told you that they felt wrench watching their big brother leave for college, do you think that they would feel happy or sad?  Right, wrench can also be used to describe a sad or confusing feeling.  In our second poem, the author claims you could, 'wear a thimble on your head,' if you were one inch tall.  A thimble is a tool used by people who sew to protect their finger from the needle.  It looks like a very small silver bowl and it fits on top of your finger.  This tool is only used when people sew by hand, not with a sewing machine.  'I left my thimble in my sewing kit and pricked my finger with my needle.'  Do you think a thimble would be useful for anything other than a very tiny hat or something to protect only one finger?  There are not very many things unless we use our imaginations to think of them.  Now that you are more familiar with some of the tricky vocabulary words, let's read the first poem."

3. Say: "I will read the first poem aloud, but I will pass out a copy for each of you so that you can follow along silently with me."  Pass out "Sick."  "The title of this poem is 'Sick.'  It is about a little girl who tells her mother she cannot go to school because she is feeling very ill.  As we read the poem together, try to create a picture or movie in your mind of what this girl would look like or would be doing if she was really as sick as she claims."  [Read the poem aloud.] Say: "'I have the measles and the mumps, a gash, a rash and purple bumps,' I am picturing a girl covered in different colored bumps.  And don't you think my face looks green? My leg is cut--my eyes are blue,' Now I know that her face is green and her eyes are blue.  I can add that to my mental picture." [Continue noting important imagery cues as the poem progresses.]

4. Say: "Did you like the twist at the end of the poem?  There was no way that she could actually be that sick, right?  Because Mr. Silverstein used such rich, or descriptive, imagery it is easy to figure out what Peggy Ann McKay would look like.  I drew a picture of a girl on the Smartboard/whiteboard before we read the poem.  Now, I am going to add as many of the problems Peggy Ann claimed to have as I can to the picture to help me visualize what she would look like."  Add to the picture as much as possible from memory of the poem, allow students to offer their own suggestions as long as they are relevant.

5. Say: "I would like to create your own visualization of another one of Shel Silberstein's poems.  First, I want you to silently read this poem to yourself.  Then, after everyone has finished, I will pass out paper and drawing materials for you to create your picture.  The picture must be an image you visualized from what you read.  I do not want you to make anything up.  To be sure your picture comes from the poem, on the back of the paper I give you I want you to write about what is happening in your picture and then copy the line from the poem that your picture is based off of underneath your explanation.  When the pictures are finished, we will share them with each other to get a glimpse into the minds of our classmates!"  Pass out the poem and then the drawing materials after the class has finished reading. 

6. The students will share their pictures and explanations with the class.  The teacher will use the comprehension rubric to grade the assignment as the students present their work.  If any images or explanations are unclear, the teacher should ask further comprehension questions such as, "Why did you choose this image to represent this line?" or "Can you tell me what line in the poem talks about what is in your drawing?" to explore the students' reasoning.


"Picture This!" Tucker, Nikki. Doorways Fall 2011.

"One Inch Tall" Shel Silverstein Poem:

"Sick" Shel Silverstein Poem:

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