Picture It!

Anna Beth Sanders
Reading to Learn

Rationale:  In order to comprehend text, one must visualize what is going on.  Visualization does not occur naturally, and must be explained to young readers.  In this lesson, young readers learn the importance of visualization as a tool for comprehension.  The young readers are given a chance to practice visualization while reading.


Materials:  reading journal for each student, self chosen book for each student, Mr. Popper's Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater.



  1. Inform students that they will practice visualization. Have student's visualize themselves at the beach.  Have them share their visualizations.  "We are going to practice visualization.  Visualization occurs when you picture something in your mind that is not something you can actually see in front of or around you. We are going to visualize ourselves at the beach. Ok, I want everyone to close their eyes.  Now, imagine that you are at the beach.  What is the weather like?  Who is there with you?  What are you doing?  How do you feel?  Just imagine for a few more moments that you are at the beach."
  2. Have students share their visualizations. "Ok, we are not at the beach anymore, open your eyes.  Who wants to tell me what it was like at their beach? (allow a few students to share) At my beach, it was very sunny, and it was so hot.  There were a lot of people swimming in the ocean.  I was with my family sitting on a blanket under an umbrella.  I was drinking an ice cold glass of lemonade.  There were sea gulls flying in the sky.  And I saw a big boat way off in the ocean.  See, we all pictured the beach differently."
  3. Discuss the importance of visualization. "When we were younger, we read mainly picture books.  But now we read chapter books, and most of them do not have many pictures.  It helps us to understand the book if we visualize what is happening.  While you read, it is important to picture in your mind what is happening in the book."

4.      Begin to read Mr. Popper's Penguins and have students practice visualizing. "Let's practice visualizing with a book.  I am going to begin to read Mr. Popper's Penguins, and I want you to picture in your head what I am reading. Think about what Mr. Popper might look like, what the weather is like and what the neighborhood is like. Close your eyes while I read and visualize." (Read the first two paragraphs of the book)

Page 3 of Mr. Popper's Penguins:

            "It was an afternoon in late September. In the pleasant little city of Stillwater, Mr. Popper, the house painter, was going home from work.

            He was carrying his buckets, his ladders, and his boards so that he had rather a hard time moving along.  He was spattered here and there with paint and calcimine, and there were bits of wallpaper clinging to his hair and whiskers, for he was rather an untidy man."

5.      Let the students share what they visualized. Have students tell what they think Mr. Popper looks like, what the weather is like, and what kind of neighborhood Stillwater is.  "Who can tell me what Mr. Popper looks like? (Allow a few students to share). Great, I see Mr. Popper as a kind of short stout man. I think he looks messy, but happy.  I imagine that he is really having a hard time walking carrying all of his stuff. What about the weather out, what is it like? (Allow a few students to share). Excellent.  I think since it is late September, it is kind of cool out and sunny.  I bet the leaves are beginning to turn red and brown.  And what about Stillwater, what do you think the neighborhood looks like there? (Allow a few students to share).  Very good.  I think Stillwater is a nice neighborhood, with trees lining the street and well kept yards.  I think the houses are of average size, nothing too fancy."

6.      Review silent reading by modeling, and have children read silently and visualize.  "Now, you are going to read on your own and practice visualizing.  Remember, we must read silently so we won't disturb anyone else.  It is especially important to read silently when others are trying to visualize.  So remember to read like this (Model reading Mr. Popper's Penguins silently, with emphasis on eye movement) see how I am not reading out loud but to myself; notice how my eyes are moving as I read (read more). Take out the book you got at the library and begin reading, Visualize as you read.  After we read we are going to write in our reading journals.

7.      For assessment, have students write in their reading journals.  Have the students describe the setting in their book.  "Reading time is over.  Now take out your reading journals.  I want you to describe what you pictured in your mind as you read your book.  Tell me about the place where the story takes place.  What is it like; would you want to go there?  Tell me who was there, and what you think they look like." 

8.      Read the journal entries to assess level of comprehension. Amount of detail should reflect the level of comprehension.  If the student goes into great detail (list 4-6 details), they probably did a good job visualizing, if the student does not have much to say (lists 1-2 details), they probably need more instruction on visualization.



Atwater, Florence and Richard. Mr. Popper's Penguins. Boston, Little, Brown and Co., 1966.

Meadors, Laura Can you see it?  http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/inroads/meadorsrl.html

Pressley, M. Johnson, C. J., Symons. S., McGoldrock, J. A., & Kurity, J. A.(1989).  Strategies that Improve Childrenâs Memory and Comprehension of Text.
        The Elementary School Journal, 90, p.9.

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