Picture This, Picture That, Paint a Picture in Your Mind!

Reading to Learn Lesson Design: Visualization

By Megan Castleberry



After students become fluent readers, it is imperative they learn good comprehension skills, which is the ultimate goal of reading.  One of the ways students can comprehend better is by using visualization.  This lesson will help students connect their background knowledge to the text to create visual images in their mind and better their comprehension skills.



Copies of Hatchet for each student, white paper/crayons/pencils, assessment checklist



1. Have class sit on the floor in a circle around you.  "I'm going to show you how I visualize, or see things in my mind. I do this while reading so that I can see exactly what is going on. We are going to travel to a place far away. Let's relax, get comfortable, close our eyes, and open our minds. I am going to tell you all about the place that we are going and I want you to imagine in your mind that you are there. Let's picture all of the things that I describe so that you feel that you can really see it. Here we go. I smell sunscreen and coconut scented lotions. I feel smooth sand between my toes and cool, calm waves washing over my feet. I hear seagulls and the wind blowing in the palm trees. I also hear steel drums playing somewhere in the distance. I see pretty white and pink shells scattered across the sand. And I feel the warm sun on my skin."

Have group discussion. "Where did we travel to? How did you know it was the beach?  What did you see? Give me a thumbs up if you have been to the beach. Did you picture that beach in your mind? If you haven't been to the beach, have you seen pictures of the beach before? Is that what you pictured?"

Allow the class to share what they saw in their mind. Ask, "Why do you think some of us had different pictures in our mind?"  Point out that we all visualize differently because we draw from our own background knowledge and experiences. "We use what we already know. It is a good thing that people have different visualizations. Do you think that you could draw a picture of the beach I described? Everyone's would look a little different but that's okay! Later I will ask you to draw a picture of something that you read."


2. Tell students, "One of my favorite things about reading is the feeling that you get when you can imagine what you're reading in your mind and you feel like you're really there. When I read my favorite books, especially the Harry Potter series, I can imagine myself inside Hogwarts and having great adventures with Harry and his friends. Reading can take you to a whole different world in your mind if you visualize as you read. Today we are going to learn how using our imagination and visualizing while we read can help us to understand and enjoy books."


3. "Today we are going to read a book by Gary Paulsen called "Hatchet". I can still remember the visualization I had in my mind when I read this book in the 5th grade and I want you all to experience your own too."


4. Give a book talk to introduce the book. "The story is about Brian Robeson's adventures as he begins a journey to visit his father. His plane crashes in the wilderness and he is left to survive on his own. Do you think a 13-year-old boy can survive in the wild with no help and no adults? What will he do? Will he be rescued?  We will have to read to find out…"


5. Have students return to desks with the book and with paper, pencils, and drawing utensils. "Today, we will begin by reading the first chapter to ourselves. Then I want you to draw your visualizations on some white paper. You will also write a few sentences at the bottom to tell about your drawing.  After everyone has finished, we will all share our pictures and sentences and compare and contrast them to make sure your pictures included all of the characters and the events in this first chapter. Over the next few weeks, we will be drawing our visualizations for each chapter of this book, so we will have something to remind us of the events of this story."




I will assess the students' comprehension by looking at their drawings and sentences. I will use the following checklist:

1. Student's illustration accurately reflects a passage from the chapter.   Yes   No       

2. Student is able to orally explain their drawing and the part of the story it represents.    Yes    No        

3. Student's statement demonstrates a clear understanding between the statement and the illustrations that pertain to a passage within the chapter.  Yes    No        

4. Student includes each of the characters from the chapter in his/her illustration.      Yes    No


Paulsen, G. Hatchet. New York: Simon & Schuster. (1987).

Reading Genie: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/

Grimes, Susan. (2009). I Spy, With My Little Mind, Something That Is…http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/projects/grimesrl.html


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