Words Paint Pictures

Reading To Learn

By: Rachel Smith

Rationale: Once students are fluent readers and can recognize words accurately and automatically, they can read to learn. To learn from the words, students must learn different strategies to make sure they understand the story. One strategy is visualization or “seeing” a picture in their minds. Visualizing will help students form a deeper grasp of the stories meaning. Students will listen to a story then draw a picture of what they see in their minds on paper to see if it connects to the story.


A copy of Sitting Bull Remembers by Ann Turner

White paper

 crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc.

Cards (enough for the class) with differing parts of the story. Each card should contain a paragraph of text from the story. Exclude the parts used in the read aloud.

Vocabulary Words and definitions on chart paper.


1. Say: When reading, sometimes it is hard to follow what all the words are saying. One way to check if you understand what the words mean is to check the picture in your head. When you read, you can picture what the words say and see the action in your mind. If you can’t see a picture, then you do not understand what you are reading and need to try again. This is called visualization.


2. Say: Today we will read Sitting Bull Remembers by Ann Turner. I will read the first three pages to you and we will share the pictures in our minds before I show you the picture the illustrator drew. This is a story about the indian chief named Sitting Bull who was taken prisoner and is remembering how his people lived before colonization. That is a fancy word for when the Europeans came to America. What do you think life was like as a Native American?  The pictures in the book are from someone’s head and are what they visualize the words to mean. Before we read, there are a few vocabulary words we need to go over to help you understand more of the story: Generous, galloping, coup, and territory.

Generous means to give or do more than is needed for someone. It is generous to share your crayons with people who don’t ask for you to. You would say it is generous if a neighbor only asked you to rake their yard, but you also carried off all the leaves you raked. You would not say it is generous for you to do your chores without being asked, since you are expected to do your chores. Finish this sentence, “I was generous when . . .”


3. Say: Now that we know the hard words from this story, we are going to practice visualizing. I am going to read a page out of the story. While I read, I am going to be “watching a movie in my head.” When I finish a page, I am going to close my eyes to block out distractions and focus on what I am seeing.


4. Say: Let me show you how I visualize. (Read the first page, but don’t show the picture) “In this dark room, in this place of fences, strange smells, and men with yellow eyes where finally I am caught and cannot get free, I close my eyes and am home again . . .” (Close your eyes for a few seconds). I think the person telling the story is in some kind of prison. The room is dark and cold, and the people holding him, his captors, look very different from him almost scary. He is sad and misses home, so he just sits all day and wishes he was somewhere else. The room smells damp and like there is mold growing and I hear metal and chains clinking together. (pause) That is what I see in my mind when I hear those words. (Show Picture). Here is what someone else thought. When you talk about the details of the picture, know that there isn’t a right or wrong answer.

5. Say: Now you try. Close your eyes and try to picture the words that I am saying. Think about what you see, what you feel, what you hear, and what you smell. You also can see what you feel like as you look around. (Read the next page) “The grass . . . Memory.” Wait a moment then have students open their eyes. Now I want to hear what you saw. (Allow students to share their ideas. Remind them, there is no wrong answer for the small details.) Good job, let’s see how what you saw is like what the illustrator saw. (Show picture and compare to students answers).


6. Say: Now that you have an idea of what it is like to visualize, we are going to finish reading the story. I want you to listen carefully to the story and watch the movie in your mind. If the movie stops, remember to listen and try to focus on what I am reading. We have gone over the vocabulary, and it is on the wall if you forget what a word means. (Read the story without showing the pictures. Stop after each page and have students close their eyes to visualize what was read).


7. Say: Now that we have read the story, I am going to have you share your pictures with the class. I am going to give each of you a card with part of the story on it. I will also hand out white paper and you can use your crayons or markers to draw a picture to show what you saw at the part of the story on your card. After we finish drawing, we are going to share the pictures in the order of the story. You will need to explain to us what you drew and how that relates to the story. We will then hang up the pictures in the order of the story to help you remember what we read.

 (Collect the pictures from students. Assessment should include whether the picture connects to the text and if the explanation makes sense with the picture the child drew and with the text.)



Lee, Laurin; Can You See What I See? http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invitations/leerl.htm

Turner, Ann Warren., and Wendell Minor. Sitting Bull Remembers. New York: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2007. Print.

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