Seeing What You Read
Reading to Learn Design
Misti Clifton


            When children read they need to be able to visualize what they are reading.  It is important to visualize what you reading because it helps children better understand what is happening in the story.  In this lesson, I hope to help children better visualize stories and passages of what they are reading by incorporating poetry so they are able to mentally see how to visualize descriptive words.



           Plain paper for drawing, crayons, copy of Haunted and Christmas Dog  by Shel Silverstein.



  1. Today class we are going to sit quietly with our eyes closed and listen as I read a poem.  This poem is about a haunted house.  I want no talking because I want everyone to be able to hear what is happening in the poem. (For example, If I say The brown tree blew crazily in the angry wind.  Ask children what they should be visualizing in their head from hearing this sentence.)  A normal response would be a tree blowing in the wind.  The wind is blowing very hard and crazy.   While I am reading the poem, Haunted, I want you imagine what it is like going into a haunted house.  I want you to imagine what the house looks like, how you would be feeling and what you would be thinking.  (Read the poem).  Now class I want you all to open your eyes and we are going to talk about what you thought.  (Ask a few students what they thought of while listening to the poem).  Write down their comments and visualizations. Basic responses would be they thought the haunted house was scary and creepy.  They could picture an old squeaky, musty house with monsters inside.


  1. Class what we just did was called visualization.  This is when you listen or read a  story and you visualize or imagine how the author or characters are feeling or acting in the  story.  It is important to think about how something might look, smell, sound and feel.  Every person may visualize something different and that is okay.  Visualization is your perception or view of something. 

  1. Now I’m going to pass out the poem Christmas Dog.  I want you to get in groups of three, and I want one person to read the story out loud and I want everyone to draw a picture about what they visualized while the reader read the poem. 



      I will assess their drawings and visualizations when we get back together as a class and talk about the different ideas and thoughts.


 Make sure drawings match the story or poem.

See if they caught on to descriptive words in the poem.

For example:  The big tree is blowing in the angry wind.  See if they show the tree in motion.



 Christmas Dog

 Tonight’s my first night as a watchdog,

And here it is Christmas Eve.

The children are sleepin’ all cozy upstairs.

While I’m guardin’ the stockin’s and tree.

 What’s that now—footsteps on the rooftop?

Could it be a cat or a mouse?

Who’s this down the chimney?

A thief with a beard—

And a big sack for robbin’ the house?

 I’m barkin’, and I’m growlin’, I’m bitin’ his butt.

He howls and jumps back in his sleigh.

I scare his strange horses, they leap in the air.

I’ve frightened the whole bunch away.

 Now the house is all peaceful and quiet again,

The stockin’s are safe as can be

Won’t the kiddies be glad when they wake up tomorrow

And see how I’ve guarded the tree.


    I dare you all to go into

    The Haunted House on Howlin’ Hill,

    Where squiggly things with yellow eyes

    Peek past the wormy window sill.

    We’ll creep into the moonlight yard,

    Where weeds reach out like fingers,

    And through the rotted old front door

    A-squeakin’ on its hinges,

    Down the dark and whisperin’ hall,

    Past the musty study,

    Up the windin’ staircase—

    Don’t step on the step that’s bloody--
    Through the secret panel

    To the bedroom where we’ll slide in

    To the ragged cobweb dusty bed

    Ten people must have died in.

    And the bats will screech,

    And the spirits will scream,

    And the thunder will crash

    Like a horrible dream,

    And we’ll sing with the zombies

    And dance with the dead,

    And how at the ghost

    With the axe in his head,

    And—come to think of it what do you say

    We go get some ice cream instead?




McDonald, Melinda.  (Spring, 2003).  “What do you See?”  A Reading to Learn Lesson Design created by Melinda McDonald.  Auburn University Reading Genie website: retrieved 11/17/03.


Silverstein, Shel.  Falling Up.  Harpers Collins Publishers.  1996.
Click her to return to:  Inspirations