Picture This!

Reading To Learn



Jordan McWilliams


Rationale:  Comprehension is an essential component of reading.  In order to be efficient and fluent readers, students must be able to understand what they are reading.  One strategy is representational imagery, or visualization.  This strategy requires students to visualize each event in the story.  This lesson will introduce students to the idea of visualizing images as they read text in hopes of improving their comprehension skills.  Students will practice this strategy by visualizing what is going on in poems and other texts and draw their visualizations.


Copy Paper for students’ drawing

Crayons and markers

Copies of Sideways Stories from Wayside School for each student

Copies of the poem Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out for each student

Copies of Sarah, Plain and Tall for each student

Copies of Slightly Rainy Day for each student


1.      First review and practice silent reading with students.  Before we get started I want everyone to practice silent reading as you read Sideways Stories from Wayside School.  Quietly whisper then stop moving our lips and read to yourself.  Great!  It is important that we remember the rules of silent reading!  Give students time to read silently.

2.    Okay now I would like everyone to get comfortable at your desk, close your eyes, and relax.  I need everyone to stay very quiet so please no talking.  I want you to picture in your minds that you are at the beach.  It is very warm outside and you are getting very hot.  You decide to go swimming in the water to cool off.  I want you to picture what is going on around you.  Whoa re you with?  What are you feeling?  What do you smell, see, and hear?  Teacher allows time for students to form pictures in their minds.  Now I want you to open your eyes.  Did everyone form pictures of the beach in their heads?  (Students Respond)  The teacher can model visualization by telling the students what she pictured about the beach.  She may also draw her visualizations on the board.  When I closed my eyes I saw huge blue waves and a white sandy beach covered in bright colored beach towels.  I pictured the hot sun and the smell of salt water, the sound of the crashing waves, and the loud sea gulls.  When you see things in your mind it is called visualization.  It is important that as we read we use visualization to think about what is going on in the story.

3.    Now I am going to read a poem to you.  I want you to use your visualization skills as I read the story to picture what is going on.  Think about how the character must look or be acting like as I read the poem.  I will be reading Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out by Shel Silverstein.  Okay everyone close your eyes and listen as I read.  Teacher will read poem aloud as students listen quietly with their eyes closed.

4.    Ask students to respond to the poem by asking to explain what they were thinking the trash pile looked like, how tall it as, did it have bugs swarming around it, and what was poor Sylvia doing.  Teacher explains:  It is okay that as we visualize different parts of stories or poems that we4 think about things differently.  Everyone visualizes things differently and that is absolutely okay!  That is one of the things that makes reading fun for everyone!  Visualization is a wonderful tool because it allows us to imaging the illustrations of a story in any way that we desire.  We can create a movie in our minds!  Because we are older now and read many books that do not have illustrations visualizations helps us to better understand a story!

5.    Give each child a copy of the book Sarah, Plain and Tall.  This is a new book we will be reading in class.  It is about two children, Caleb and Anna, that live with their father, Jacob, on a farm.  Their mother died years ago, so for many years it has just been the children and their father.  Well, now their father wants to find a wife, so he sends an ad out seeking a wife.  Sarah replies to his ad and comes to live with the family for as short while to see how things work out.  Will Sarah stay for good or will she go back home?  We will have to read the book to find out.  Give each child a piece of drawing paper, markers, and crayons.  Now I would like for you to read the first chapter of the book silently and then draw a picture of what you visualized while you were reading.

6.    Allow ample time for the students to read and illustrate the passage from the book.  Great Job!  Now I am going to divide you all into small groups and share your pictures.  Please notice how your pictures are alike and how they are different.

7.    Have the students read the second chapter of Sarah, Plain and Tall over the next week.  They will practice using visualization by drawing what they visualized and write a short paragraph about their picture.

Assessment:  Have students to silently read a short poem, Slightly Rainy Day by Kenn Nesbitt, and then draw their visualizations.  Teacher will use these drawings to assess students’ progress with the visualization strategy for a clear comprehension of the text.  Teacher will look for understanding of the text not artistic ability.  Does student have know the characters, setting, what is going on in the text?

Slightly Rainy Day

    It’s windy and chilly

And rainy and gray,

But, still, I won’t need

My galoshes today.


I’ll need no umbrella,

No jacket or mittens.

It’s not raining hard;

Only puppies and kittens.

        -Kenn Nesbitt



Ritter, Shannon.  A-B-“See” is Easy as 123.  http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/insp/ritterrl.html

    Schofield, Rebecca.  Take a Picture With the Camera.

    Pressley, M.  1989.  Strategies That Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of     Text.  The Elementary School Jounal (Vol 90, Num.1).  Illinois:  The University of                Chicago.
    Sachar, Louis.  Sideways Stories from Wayside School.  1998.  HarperTrophy.
    Silverstein, Shel.  Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out.  1974.           Where The Sidewalk Ends.  Evil Eye Music, Inc.
    MacLachlan, Patricia.  Sarah, Plain and Tall.  1985.  New York:  Scholastic, Inc.

    Nesbitt, Kenn.. Slightly Rainy Day.  2004.  Kenn Nesbitt.

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