See It When You Read It!

Reading to Learn
Elizabeth Bush



By the time that students are in third and fourth grade, they should have mastered the skills necessary for reading quickly, automatically, and expressively.  Books in these grades do not have illustrations to accompany the text.  Because students are used to seeing their ideas come alive in pictures, when they find that the new books they are reading do not have pictures, students often become frustrated.  When skillful readers read, they automatically create images in their heads.  Young children usually do this too, although they may not realize it.  This visualization process helps students comprehend text.  Research shows that visualization helps children’s comprehension, satisfaction, and learning.  This exercise will help children recognize their own visualization process and how to use it to benefit their reading.



            white copy paper

            colored pencils

            a class set of Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

            rubric/checklist for assessment

            large sentence strip of: This weekend I am going to the football game with my parents.

            large sentence strip of: Today, I went to the park to play soccer with my friends.




1. Review Silent Reading. Remember how we have talked about how to read silently? When we are reading, we should not be saying words out loud. Instead, we should say them “in loud” to ourselves, silently, so that we do not disturb our classmates. I am going to read this sentence out loud, and then silently to show you the difference.” (Model: Read the sentence “This weekend I am going to the football game with my parents.). “Do you see the difference? Now, I want you to read this sentence out loud, and then silently.” (Write sentence “Today, I went to the park to play soccer with my friends.” Class will read out loud, then silently to themselves). 


2. Introduce Visualization. A few years ago, I bet that the books that y’all read were full of pictures. Now that y’all are older, the books that you read don’t have pictures.  Even though there aren’t pictures on the pages, do you see pictures when you read? Do you picture what is going on in the book in your mind? I do too! This is called visualization. When we visualize, it helps us remember what we read.

3. Let’s test it out. I’m going to read you a part of our book, and I want everyone to close their eyes and visualize what I am reading.  (Read a passage from Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan.) Now I want someone to raise their hand and tell me what they visualized or saw in their minds when I was reading. Great, did anyone else visualize something different? Good, y’all are doing a great job of visualizing. Now I want you to keep your eyes open while I read a little more. (Read another passage from Sarah Plain and Tall). Who can raise their hand and tell me what they visualized when you had your eyes open? Excellent!


4. Pass out copies of Sarah Plain and Tall to each of the students and give a book talk for Sarah Plain and Tall. (Book Talk: This book is about two children, Anna and Caleb, who live with their father. Their mother died and their father puts out an advertisement for a new wife. A lady named Sarah Elizabeth Wheaton answers the ad. Sarah is from Maine and she brings treasures from the sea with her. Anna and Caleb like having Sarah around as their new mother, but you will have to read the book to see if Sarah stays or goes back to Maine?) I would like each of you to silently read the first chapter. I also want you to make sure you are visualizing what you are reading, because that is what good readers do, so that they understand what is happening in the book.  After you have read the first chapter, I want you to come get a sheet of white paper, pull out your box of colored pencils, and quietly wait for me to give you instructions. After the whole class has read the first chapter of Sarah Plain and Tall, tell them that they are to draw something that they visualized from the book. Have the students write down the page number of what they visualized. The teacher should walk around and have each of the students describe what they visualized.



The teacher will assess the drawings of each of the students. The drawings will be assessed based on the following checklist:




Student’s illustration accurately reflects a passage from Chapter One.



Student pays attention to detail.



Student includes page number of passage.





MacLachlan, Patricia.  Sarah Plain and TallNew York: Harper Trophy, 1985.


“How to See with Your Eyes Closed.” by Mareena Kohtala


“Making Mind Movies.” by Coley Duke

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