Picture This!



Reading to Learn Design

By: Lauren Meredith


The overall goal of reading is comprehension. To become an expert reader, children need to be able to comprehend the text they are reading. One way to become an expert reader is by using the strategy of visualization. Visualization is important to a reader because they can use what they already know and connect it with the text to create new ideas in their mind. Visualization helps children recognize problems in a text that break down comprehension. This lesson will help students learn to visualize by creating mental pictures in their mind. Students will listen and create drawings to practice this.


Copy of the passages One Tiny Turtle and Sarah, Plain and Tall, paper, crayons, individual copies of Tuck Everlasting, pencils


1.    "Sometimes when we read we tend to focus only on the words. It is also important to visualize the story. Can anyone tell me what it means to visualize?" Waits for response. "Great! To visualize means you are picturing something in your head. When we read we need to picture what the author is telling us. Let me show you. I'm going to read this small passage and tell you what I picture."


The turtle swims around, flapping her long front flippers like wings. She is flying underwater. She pokes her pinprick nostrils through the silver surface to take a quick breath, so fast, blink and you'll miss it! [From One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies (Candlewick Press, 2001).]

          "I imagine a turtle swimming under the water. But instead of swimming I imagine her more like gliding underneath the water. He fins are stretched out and look twice as long as her body. She is swimming underneath the water and then all of a sudden she pops her head up and we see the tip of her head above the water. But only before a spilt second before she submerges herself back under the water continuing on her journey."

2.    Now I want you to try. I want you to close your eyes. I'm going to read you this passage from Sarah Plain and Tall and I just want you to imagine exactly what I'm reading. Ok, now close your eyes."


"There is wind here," said Caleb happily. "It blows the snow and brings tumbleweeds and makes the sheep run. Wind and wind and wind!" Caleb stood up and ran like the wind, and the sheep ran after him. Sarah and I watched him jump over rock and gullies, the sheep behind him, stiff legged and fast. He circled the field, the sun making the top of his hair golden. He collapsed next to Sarah, and the lambs pushed their wet noses into us. [From Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (HarperTrophy, 1987).]

          "Now I want you to get out a piece of paper and your crayons and I'm going to read through the passage again but this time I want you to draw the picture that you are visualizing in your head. While I read I want you to focus on the setting and what is happening." Read passage again and give time for students to draw a picture.

3.    After students have drawn their picture have them share with a neighbor and critique one another's work, giving both the positive and negatives. Then have a few students share with the class.


4.    "We are now going to some review of vocabulary. The first word we are going to review is 'burly'. Who can tell me what burly means again?" Wait for students response. "Correct! It means "strongly built or muscular". Who can give me an example of someone who is burly? Would a baby be burly or would a professional football player be burly?" "Right! A football player would be burly because they are big and strong and a baby is not. Let's continue with our next word, irrelevant. This means "not important or unrelated". So something that is irrelevant doesn't have to do with what you're talking about. So if we are talking about science would it would be irrelevant for one of you to start talking about what you're going to do this weekend. If you are irrelevant you aren't staying on topic. The third word we are going to be reviewing is melancholy. Who can remind me again what this means?" Wait for response. "Exactly. It means "sad or depressed". Would you feel melancholy at your birthday or if your favorite team won? No, you'd be excited. You might feel melancholy if you lost your favorite toy or your dog ran away. The last word we are going to review is tranquil which means "calm". I am tranquil when I'm at the beach reading a book and listening to the waves. When might be a time that you are tranquil?" Allow for various responses from different children.

5.    "You are all doing a great job visualizing. Now we are going to try with a chapter book. You are going to read the first chapter of Tuck Everlasting.  It is about a young girl who one day runs away from home. She finds herself lost in the woods and extremely thirsty. She sees a small stream of water and decides to take a drink. Suddenly she hears a boy yelling, telling her not to drink the water. Who was this strange boy and why can't she drink the water? You have to read the story to find out."


6.    "As you are reading the first chapter I want you to visualize what is happening. Focus on how the characters are described and the environment around them. It is important to visualize what is happening in the story to help you comprehend and remember the story."


7.    After they read chapter one, have the students draw on a piece of paper what they visualized as they read. Also write a short description of what they drew and why, which shows comprehension.


I will assess students' comprehension by looking at their drawings and descriptions of Chapter 1. I can also assess their discussion points during the lesson and their drawings from the passage.


Dennis-Shaw, Sarah. Guided Comprehension: Visualizing Using the Sketch-to-Stretch Strategy. http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/guided-comprehension-visualizing-using-229.html?tab=4#tabs

Frasier, Mallie. Picture Perfect. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/realizations/frasierrl.htm

Grimes, Jeanie. Picture It! http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invent/grimesrl.html

Babbitt, N. (1975). Tuck Everlasting.

Davies, Nicola. (Candlewick Press, 2001). One Tiny Turtle.

MacLachlan, Patricia. (Harper Trophy, 1987). Sarah, Plain and Tall.



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