Visions of Pigs

Reading to Learn

Landon McKean



To become a skilled and successful reader, children must learn to visualize what they read.  Visualization takes place when one forms mental images in their mind while reading.  By visualizing, you can understand what you are reading better as well as comprehend the text easier.  Since the most important goal of reading is comprehension, children need to be able to visualize what they read so it will make sense.  This lesson will teach students to visualize text when reading, thus comprehending the story.



Copy of the book Charlotte’s Web for each student

Construction paper for each student

Crayons for each student

TV and VCR

Charlotte’s Web video



1. “Today we are going to discover how to read to learn.  The reading strategy we are going to discuss is called visualization.”  Introduce the concept of visualization by reviewing the concept of silent reading first.  “Before we learn about visualization, we are going to review the concept of silent reading.  Is silent reading important?  Yes, because if everyone reads out loud at the same time it is very hard to concentrate.”  Pick two students to help demonstrate the importance of silent reading.  “Now three of us are going to start reading out loud at the same time.  Okay read.”  After a few seconds say stop.   “Could anyone understand what we were reading about?  No, because we were all reading at the same time.  Now everyone read silently for a few seconds.  Now stop.  Wasn’t it much easier to understand what you were reading when everyone was reading silently?  Today we are all going to read silently so that everyone can visualize what they are reading individually.”

2. “To be a skilled reader, you must learn to visualize the text you are reading.  In order for you to understand what it means to visualize words that you hear or read we are going to all participate in a visualization exercise.”  Thoroughly explain to the students how to paint visual imagines in their minds and model for the students how you would visualize yourself playing at the park.  “Before you visualize on your own, I am going to tell you what I am visualizing.  I am imagining I am at the park.  It is a cool, autumn day and the leaves are beginning to fall off the trees.  First I run towards the slide.  I climb up the silver steps and hold on tight to the handle which feels cold to the touch.  As I reach the top of the steps I take a look around at all the other children at the playground.  Everyone is running around and laughing.  Then I sit down on the slide and take off.  Down I go as the wind blows back my hair.  As my feet touch the sand at the bottom of the slide I feel a sense of relief as I land safely on the ground.  Then I look around to decide what I am going to do next.  Now you are going to try to visualize so listen closely to my directions.  First, get comfortable at your desk, close your eyes, and relax.  Everyone must be very quiet and not talk.  Imagine 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.  Picture what is going on around you.  Who are you with?  What do you see, smell, feel, and hear?”  Allow time for the students to form pictures in their minds.  “Now open your eyes.  Did everyone form a picture of the beach in their head?”  Model how to form a visualization of the beach by describing to the students the picture you created of the beach or draw a picture of your visualization on the board.  “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.  By visualizing the words in the story we will also comprehend what is happening in the story.”

3. “Today we are going to practice visualizing while reading the chapter book Charlotte’s Web.  This book is about a little girl named Fern who loved a pig named Wilbur.  Wilbur was going to be sent off to the butcher, so Fern and Wilbur’s friends, Charlotte and Templeton, tried to save him.  To find out what happens to Wilbur we will have to read the book.  Before we all begin reading silently, I am going to read the first chapter of the book aloud so that you can practice visualizing what you hear.  Everyone close your eyes and listen carefully.”  Read the first chapter of Charlotte’s Web aloud to the class.  “Now everyone open your eyes.  Who can raise their hand and describe to the class the picture you made in your mind as I read aloud?”  Call on several students to share their mental images.  “Isn’t it neat that we all create our own unique visual images of the story?  That is one reason that reading is so much fun!  Visualization is a wonderful tool because it allows us to image the illustrations of a story in any way that we desire.”

4. Pass out a copy of the book, construction paper, and crayons to each student.  “Now everyone is going to read the second chapter of Charlotte’s Web silently.  As you read, don’t forget to use your visualization strategies.  Also, it is ok to close your eyes every now and then to create a better mental picture.  When you get to the end of chapter two, draw a picture of what you just read.  Once everyone has finished reading and drawing their picture, we will share our images with each other.”

5. In order to assess the students’ understanding of visualization, collect the students’ visualization pictures as well as have them write an explanation of what they visualized.  Check to make sure the student knows the characters, setting, and situation of the story.  Base grades on the students’ comprehension of the text which will be evident in their written explanations and not their artistic ability. 

6. Once the students have finished reading the whole book, let them watch the Charlotte’s Web video.  The students will be able to compare the visualizations they made while reading the book to the visualizations the artists made while making the cartoon.  By watching the video, students will also be able to check their comprehension of the story. 



Internet Site:  Allison McDonald.  Close Your Eyes and Imagine

Internet Site:  Jordan McWilliams.  Picture This!

 Book:  White, E.B. (1952).  Charlotte’s Web.  Harper & Row, Publishers:  New York.

 Video:  Charlotte's Web by Paramount Pictures.  Available at

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