Turn Reading into Watching a Movie!


Reading to Learn: Visualization

Rebecca Bracken

Rationale: Students need to make reading more than just words on the page so it will become meaningful enough to them that they can begin to construct meaning and comprehend the meaning to learn.   Children need to visualize what is going on within a story as they read it. Students will practice making pictures in their mind so they will be able to do it in their independent reading.

 Materials: copy paper for drawings, crayons and markers, Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan, a copy of "Bear in There" by Shel Silverstein from A Light in the Attic .

Procedure:  Review silent reading strategies before Drop Everything and Read Time (Students will read Sarah Plain and Tall). Before we do our next lesson, we are going to have some silent reading time.  When we read silently, it is like we are reading ourselves a story in our mind.  The way we read silently is by starting out quietly whispering the words to ourselves, and then we stop moving our lips and read to your self. (Teacher models whisper reading, then silent reading).Now, let me see you do it.

  1. Everyone needs to get comfortable, relax, and close your eyes. This activity will work best if the room is completely quiet, no talking, everyone focusing on their thoughts. I would like for you to picture your favorite person in the entire world. Imagine Think about what that person looks like, what they are wearing, what they are doing, and what kind of expression they have on their face. Now that you have imagined this person in your minds, I would like you to open your eyes. Could you actually see that person in your mind?   Turn to your neighbor and take turns sharing who you pictured in your mind.   When you see things, like we just saw our favorite person, in our minds it is called visualization.  We can use visualization when we are reading to make it like a movie in our minds so that we can actually see what is going on in the book.   
  2.  I want you to use visualization, or make pictures in your mind, as I read the poem “A Bear in There” by Shel Silverstein. Make a picture in your mind about what is happening in the poem.
  3. Students will share their responses to what they pictured happening in the book in small groups (3-4 students per group).  The group will make a sketch of different aspects of what they saw in the poem and share it with the class.
  4. “One of the most interesting things about reading is that I may picture something in a totally different way than you see it.  This is why it can be so much fun to talk about a book with your friends because all of you might learn a different thing from thing from that book”.
  5. Pass out Sarah Plain and Tall and have students read along with the teacher the passage at the beginning of chapter three. “While we are reading, I want you to make this book into a movie by picturing all of the details in your head.  We are all going to read this passage from the book Sarah Plain and Tall.  After we are done reading the passage you are going to draw what you visualized about the family getting the house ready for Sarah to come. I will pass out crayons, markers, and paper for you to use. Make sure you include the surroundings and how everything looked."

Assessment: The children’s drawings will be used as the assessment for the activity. Once children have created their individual drawings, they will get into small groups and share their drawings with discussing the way that their pictures are the same and how they are different.


MacLachlan, Patricia (1985).  Sarah Plain and Tall.  New York:  Harper Trophy.

McDonald, Melinda.  “What Do You See?" http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/openings/mcdonaldrl.html.

Silverstein, Shel (1996).  A light in the attic.  “Bear in There”.  New York:  HarperCollins.

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