The Adventures of Visualization



Reading Comprehension Lesson Design: Visualization

Casey Tidwell


Comprehension is a very important goal of reading. Visualization is a means of learning comprehension. Students need to learn to visualize the text as they read. By doing so, they will paint a picture in their head of what is going on in the text. This is important because it will help students to remember the story and comprehend the book. This lesson will help students listen to and read stories while visualizing the text, thus comprehending the story.




1.      Good Morning fellow astronauts. Today our mission is to Mars. Be sure to buckle your seat belt and enjoy the voyage. There will be many things to observe on this trip so be sure you pay close attention to what is around you. Ready --- here we go. If you notice to your right, we’ve only been gone a few seconds but it seems like earth is so far away already doesn’t it. On your left you will see the great ball of fire; we know it as the sun. Alright, we’re getting close, be sure you’re still buckled cause its gonna be a rocky landing. Here we are. You can unbuckle now and exit the shuttle to your right. Look at the landscape. Notice how very different it is from Opelika. Think about the things that make it different. Look over there…..those rocks are amazing. Let’s go closer. You can pick one up and look at it. Observe its shape size and color. You can even break it, if you can and look at the inside. Ok now its time to go but you must leave your rock here. Back to the shuttle. Buckle up. Here we go. The ride back might be a little bumpy so be prepared. We’ll soon be landing. There’s earth, notice how it gets larger as we get closer. Alright, here we are, back on earth. You may unbuckle and exit the shuttle. Have a nice day!       (Ok, you can open your eyes now.)

2.      I am going to call on a few of you and I want you to tell me what you saw in your head (call on 2 or 3 students). Sounds like you all saw different things. That’s pretty interesting! Does anybody know what we call it when we picture things in our head? (Students might say imagine, brainstorm, picture, dream, see, or other things. Be sure that you let them know those answers are all correct but that visualization is a word that means the same thing).

3.      Visualization is a very important thing that we do in our brains. When we hear things, we have this great ability to see things in my head. When I say “there is a bowl of fruit on the table”, in your head, you might visualize a wooden bowl with bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, and pears. Or you might visualize a ceramic bowl with only bananas in it. Visualizing is fun, because we get to use our imagination. When I visualize a fruit bowl, it doesn’t look the same as the fruit bowl you visualize.

4.      Even though many times we all visualize things different, visualizing can help us to see the same thing. Listen to this description of a fruit bowl: On the table there is sitting a red, oval, ceramic bowl. In the bowl there are bananas that are not yet ripe, some red grapes, and granny smith apples. Now, I bet everyone’s visualizations are a little more the same.

5.      Visualizations also help us to find things and figure things out. If I asked Jim to go to my desk and get the red binder with a yellow post-it on top, he would visualize that in his head. When he gets to my desk, he would look for what it was he had visualized.

6.      Well, we’ve talked about how important visualization is and how much fun it can be. Do you know that visualization can help us to be better readers? How do you think that visualization might help us to read stories better? (Allow a few students to give answers). That’s right, when we read a sentence, if it has a description then we can visualize it in our heads. When might visualizing be very important in a story? That’s right, when we are learning about the characters and setting. When I read the sentence “Tom was an adventuresome little boy, ragged around the edges,” I visualize a short little boy with dirty blond hair that hasn’t been washed in a while, wearing overalls that are ripped and rolled up on one leg. Now I bet that your visualizations were a little different.

7.      Today, we are going to start reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and this is a great book to practice our visualization. Pay close attention to all the details in the story because they are great and will help you visualize the story. You will laugh; I’m sure, because of some of the things you visualize. After we finish the book, we will watch the movie and see how our visualizations compare to how the movie company visualized the movie.

8.      I want you to read the first chapter in Tom Sawyer and when you are finished, you will draw a picture to show me what you visualized as you read this section. You can let me know about the characters or the setting or a specific scene, but use as much detail as you can. I should be able to look at your picture and tell you what it look like and give a description much like what you visualized.


Allow students enough time to read the story and draw their pictures. They will turn in the pictures that were drawn. The pictures should be graded using the following guidelines as a checklist:

      Did the student draw a picture?
Does the picture relate to the first chapter?
Does the picture relate to characters or setting?
Is the picture interpretable?
Does the picture display detail?
Does the picture portray comprehension of the first chapter?


<>McIntosh, Kelly. “Adventures of Visualization”

Pressley, Michael. “Strategies That Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text”. The Elementary School Journal. Volume 90: 1. University of Western Ontario, 1989.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Baronet Books: New York, New York.

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