Picture This…

to Learn

 Amanda Mahoney

Rationale:   Reading comprehension is the goal of skillful readers. For better comprehension when reading (silently or aloud), children should be able to visualize what they are reading. To visualize is to simply make the story come alive through mental images in your mind. There is consistent evidence that visualization, or constructing images, facilitates children’s learning of text. Comprehension of a story through imagination positively affects the comprehension of text information and is a great way to help readers summarize what they are reading. In this lesson, children will learn how to and practice constructing images from their reading. During this lesson, the children will learn to create mental pictures of what they are reading in both sentences and paragraphs, from poems and books. By doing this, it will help children to become aware of their thoughts and to learn to create mental images of what they are reading throughout an entire story.


  1. Poem – written on poster board or on butcher paper
    1. Seed, Sprout, Flower Poem by Helen H. Moore

i.      A seed is planted:  
            First a sprout,
            then stem,
            and leaves,
            and buds
            come out.
            Buds grow bigger,
            smelling sweet,
            bees and birds come
            ‘round to eat.
            Bees and birds
            help flowers spread
            their new seeds on
            the garden bed…
            A seed is planted.

  1. Chalkboard and Colored Chalk
  2. Book – to read aloud to class; very descriptive
    1. Parts or More Parts by Tedd Arnold; Scholastic Inc, copyright 2000,2001
  3. Blank White Paper (8½” x 11”)
  4. Pencil / Crayons
  5. Packing Tape or Masking Tape
  6. Current Issue – TIME for Kids; World Report Edition; www.timeforkids.com


1.       Today we are going to go over a strategy that will help you with the comprehension of a story or whatever you are reading. Can anyone tell me what it means to comprehend a story? That’s correct; it is when we are able to understand the meaning of the words in the story so that it makes sense. Begin the lesson with an overview of what visualization means; Remember when we do reader’s theater. We practice our lines and act out the play. The play comes to life and we have scenes/pictures that represent each part of the story. May want to go into how you have props that add to a character and tell you about his/her personality without that character having to speak. Well, visualizing when you read is like playing a movie inside your head. When the story tells/describes a character, you make a visual image in your mind of what that character looks like. When you see/picture the characters and/or settings in a poem or book, you can better remember what happened in the story.

2.     Okay class, I want you to get very quiet and still in your desks, close your eyes and sit without saying a word for 30 seconds. Now that everyone is settled down and relaxed, still with their eyes closed, I want you to picture something for me.  Picture your most favorite place in the whole world. This could be somewhere you have gone on vacation, somewhere you have gone with your friends or family, or somewhere very close to home that you have discovered all by yourself. Now that you are at this place, I want you to think about the weather, is it cold, hot, warm, cool? Now think about the smell. Does it smell like flowers, the beach, the mountains, a campfire, food…etc.?  Now think about what you like to do at your favorite place and imagine yourself doing it. Are you with anyone, or are you by yourself? What are you doing? Now that you have all thought of your favorite place and imagined in your minds exactly how that place is, I want you to open your eyes. Wasn't it fun to close your eyes and pretend you were at your favorite place? Wait for children to respond. The teacher will now model for the children what she visualized in her head. Tell the children about your favorite place, the surroundings, the noises, the weather, etc. Now I am going to give you all a chance to share what you thought about and what your vision was of your favorite place. Allow children to respond; do not force them, just on a volunteer basis. What we just did is create mental pictures in your mind, this process is called visualization. Visualization is a very important tool in learning to comprehend what you read. Today we are going to learn why and how it can help us as we read.

3.     Put the Seed, Sprout, Flower Poem on the board or in the front of the classroom, where everyone can see it. Have the children close their eyes and maybe put their heads down, whatever, just to keep quiet and actually listen to the poem as you read. Okay class, while I read this poem out loud, I want you all to close your eyes and think of a picture as I say the poem. Then, after I read through it once, we will go through it little by little and create a picture of our poem on the chalkboard. Read through the Seed, Sprout, Flower poem once slowly, so that the children can create an image in their mind as you speak.

4.     Model visualization for the children using the poem you just read. Using colored chalk on the chalkboard, near the poem, create a picture from the images the children thought of/think of as you read through the poem again in smaller sections. First read the beginning line: A seed is planted: and ask the children; What knowledge/image can we gain/create from this line of the poem? Ask for responses, raising hands and answering one at a time as the teacher draws the image on the board. That’s right, a seed being planted in the ground, probably a garden if someone is planting it. Next, move on to the next line of the poem: First a sprout, and ask the children for an image/picture again. Add on to your drawing of the seed and create a small sprout from the seed. Move through the poem in using the line(s) to create an image on the board.

    1. Poem written above in materials section.

5.     Now, get a short, descriptive book, like Tedd Arnold’s Parts or More Parts, to read aloud to the class. Tell the children to close their eyes, listen to the words and the story, and to make mental images as there are pauses/natural breaks in the reading or at the end of each page. Roughly break the class into three sections and tell section one to listen most carefully to the beginning of the book, section two to listen most carefully to the middle of the book, and section three to listen most carefully to the ending of the book. Do not tell the children where the beginning, middle, and end are, just tell them to listen to the whole story and create images. Class, now that you are all getting older and we’re progressing through the year, you are starting to read longer books with more words and less pictures. While reading these stories, we need to have strategies that will help us to remember the key information that is in the text we’re reading. One strategy is to form mental pictures in our heads of what is going on and what everything looks like in the story. Right now, I am going to read you a story without showing you any pages. I want you to listen closely to the story line and create images or moving comic strips as I read. Read the story clearly, with expression, and so that the children can follow the storyline easily, as they are trying to remember images for the first time.

    1. Arnold’s books are wonderfully descriptive and fun for children. His illustrations are excellent. You can even show them the drawings he created to go with the story as they share their own images.

6.     As you finish reading, pass out blank white paper and have children get crayons. Explain: Alright class, now that I’ve finished reading the book aloud to you, I want you all to remember a scene from your section of the book and draw an image of that part on the paper in front of you. You can decorate it with colors, with words, or with movement lines; we just want to be able to see what the image is at the end. When we are finished, we are going to show them to the class and you will be explaining your section/image of the book. We will then put them in order (of the book story line) to create a story quilt that we will hang on our wall to inspire making mental images in the future while we read text. As the children finish, they can bring their images to you and you can write a brief description or few words around the image so that everyone will know what the image represents. The children can bring their papers up and show the class what they drew, what part of the text it represents, and why they drew certain images to represent certain things. Ask questions of the children, because sharing the process and ideas will help others to remember and to use this strategy in the future. Use packing tape or masking tape to attach all the images together in order and hang on the wall; you can do this while they are silently reading their text in the next few steps or after school so that it is up for them to see the next day.

7.     All right class, do you remember when we learned about silent reading and how we read a book without saying the words? Well, silent reading is a great time to use our visualization skills. With silent reading, we can focus more on what we are thinking, rather than what we sound like when we are reading aloud. I am passing out the current issues of TIME for Kids. If entire class is reading the same main article, have them read aloud and then put them in pairs as they finish to create images/pictures on a piece of paper. If you want all the articles read and discussed, break the class into small groups of 3-5 children and assign a different article to each group. Have the children read their articles silently and then work as a group to create a picture/image (on a sheet of paper) of their article to present to the class. Either way, remind the children that they only need to remember the important parts of the article and their picture/image should show the main/key points of the entire article. I want you all to read the article I assigned to you silently. Once everyone in your pair/group is finished reading the article once, I want you to collaborate together and create a mental image of the main concepts/key points of your article. You will be presenting these articles to your classmates and they want to know about your article, so do a good job so that everyone can learn and gain knowledge.

8.     Assessment: First, while the students are presenting their individual images from the story, you can evaluate if they actually chose an image and got it represented on the paper. Then, if they can also tell you or the class what that image represents after they have colored it and the book reading is not as fresh in their mind. Second, when the pairs/groups are giving their presentations on the articles they read from the Time for Kids magazine, you can ask them questions about the articles to see if they can recall relevant information. If you had the whole class read the main article and then create images in pairs, you can call them to your desk separately and ask the children questions. This way it will be fair and the other groups will not get the benefit of hearing the others recap the article or hear the questions you ask.


1. Arnold, Tedd. Parts or More Parts. Scholastic, copyright 2000, 2001.

2. Moore, Helen H. Seed, Sprout, Flower. Scholastic, copyright 1999.

3. Pressley, Michael. Strategies That Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text. The Elementary School Journal;             Volume 90, Number 1. The University of Chicago, copyright 1989.

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