Seeing is Believing


Reading to Learn

Mary Claire Sikes


Rationale: In order for children to become successful readers they must be able to comprehend the words that they read. There are many important concepts that children can learn that will help them with comprehension, but the one that you want to focus on for children to learn in this lesson is visualization. Visualization helps children recognize problems in a text that break down comprehension.  Helping students to “see” what they are reading will help them to think about a text in a deeper and more meaningful way.  By helping students to see certain actions and events that take place in a book or a text will give them the tools that they need to fully comprehend the story they are reading. The students will read different portions of text and practice visualizing, they will also work on vocabulary words and interpreting their visualizations.

Materials:  The Random House Book of Poetry for Children; Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White; drawing paper; markers and crayons


1.  First, the teacher will have the students review the concept of silent reading. The teacher will ask the students, “Can someone remember the steps to reading silently?” Silent reading is when you read the text or book to yourself. You do not read the words aloud, but instead you simply read them in your head so no one else can hear you. Sometimes when readers are reading silently, they may move their mouth like they are reading aloud, but no sounds are actually coming from their mouth.

2.  The teacher will then ask, “Has anyone ever read a story silently? Do you ever think about a picture of what is happening while you are reading?” Sometimes we do this when we are reading chapters in a book or books with few pictures. We use the words in the text to help us visualize or see what is happening in the story. This skill is so important for fluent readers to use. It is called visualization. It is very important because it helps us as readers to comprehend the meaning of the texts.

3. Before the students read the teacher will teach some vocabulary words so that the students are able to visualize. Now say: “We will learn a few vocabulary words so that when you visualize you will have background information before you read.” The vocabulary words we will learn are: meadow, beneath, and drift.

Meadow- a tract of grassland used for pasture or serving as a hayfield

“The animals wondered in the meadow.”

Beneath- below or under

“The mouse hid beneath the table from the cat.”

Drift- to be carried along by currents of water or air

“The leaf drifted from the tree to the ground.”

4.  Say: “Now I am going to show you how I visualize while I read.  I am going to read a small passage and tell you what I picture.”

            The Butterfly

 Over grassy meadows

 Beneath the clear blue sky

 Through golden rays of sunlight

 Drifts the lovely butterfly  

“While I was reading that passage I picture a long field of high green grass, and a meadow has no trees. “Clear blue sky” tells me there aren’t even any clouds. So I’m thinking of a field with no trees and a bright blue sky. Can you imagine that?  Visualizing is also using your imagination.  A lot of times things we read in books we might not have ever seen so we have to rely on descriptions and details that the authors give us in the texts.

5.  Now I want you to try. “I want you to close your eyes.  As you are reading the passage I want you to visualize what is happening.  It’s important that we are able to see the story in our minds in order to help us better comprehend what we are reading.  I want you to focus on characters and their descriptions and the environment around them.  What do you think it looks like?

“The barn was very large. It was very old. It smelled of hay...It smelled of the perspiration of tired horses and the wonderful sweet breath of patient cows...It smelled of grain and of harness dressing and of axle grease and of rubber boots and of new rope. It was full of all sorts of things that you find in barns: ladders, grindstones, pitchforks, monkey wrenches, scythes, lawn mowers, snow shovels, ax handles, milk pails, water buckets, empty grain sacks, and rusty rat traps. It was the kind of barn that swallows like to build their nests in. It was the kind of barn that children like to play in.”

6.  After you have read the passage ask students to tell you what they saw in their heads. Ask them to tell you about their barn. It is not important that they have all or even most of the animals and objects in their barn mentioned in the passage. What is important is that they are able to see a barn. Their barns may include elements not mentioned in the passage.

If students have a hard time describing their barn, model what you see for them. I might say, “I see a big, old wooden barn with peeling red paint. It has huge double doors on the front of it and these doors are wide open. The barn is in the middle of a tree filled meadow and a very soft breeze is making the branches of the trees sway.”

Then give students a chance to share again after your modeling.

7.  Student will use a drawing they have created from visualizing the passage as their interpretation. After students have drawn their picture have them share with a neighbor and give each other comments. Then have a few students share their drawings with the class. Now you are going to do a small vocabulary lesson. Choose a few words from the passages we just read or ones they are going to read to better help them understand what is going on. Explain to the students the importance of knowing what words mean in order to help you fully comprehend texts.  Pick about 8 words and have their definitions on chart paper and talk about each one with the students.  Then play a review game, such as vocabulary bingo or something fun that will engage them with new words and their meanings.

8.  For assessment I will look at the student’s drawings and descriptions of the passage.  Also I will assess their discussion points during the lesson and drawings from the passages.

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