Picture It!

Reading to Learn

By Jeanine Grimes

Rationale: The overall goal of reading is to comprehend the text. Some students can read the words but learn or relate to anything as they read. For comprehension it is important for a reader to use what they already know and connect it with the new text to create new ideas in their mind. In this lesson, students will make connections between the text and their background knowledge by visualizing what they understood while reading. They will express their visualization by drawing pictures.

 Materials: Board for whole class to see, something to write on board, pre-drawn picture by teacher of visualization of poem, copy of My Snowman by Neal Levin, for each student, two blank sheets of paper for each student, copies of Say What? By Margaret Peterson Haddix for each student, pencils for each students

Procedure:1. “All of you are awesome readers. Sometimes when we focus a lot on just reading the words we do not understand the words we just read. Have you ever read something and had to go back and read it again because you did not understand what you read? Remember when we worked on reading silently, reading in our heads without moving our mouths. This was a way for us to use only our minds to figure out the words in the text.  Another way our minds can help us understand what an author is trying to tell us is to create a picture of what is going on as we read. The farther we read in to that text the more we can add to our mental picture. For example, I am going to read this sentence in my mind. (Read sentence silently written on board.) Mom and Dad sat together under the tree while the fish leaped in the pond next to them. Now this time as I read I am going to show you the picture my mind is drawing. (As teacher reads she begins to draw all the elements of the sentence until she has drawn a man and woman next to a tree and a pond with fish close by. Try to read at as normal pace as possible.) This picture will help me remember what happened in the sentence I read. Though I don’t always draw it out on a board or paper, I always create a picture in my mind. Let’s practice this together.”

2. Every student will have a copy of the poem, My Snowman by Neal Levin and a blank piece of paper to draw on. “This poem is about how the author would make a special snowman.”The teacher instructs the students to read the first stanza of the poem to themselves silently. She then chooses a student to read it aloud to the class. “Now class we are going to draw the picture our mind created.” Allow time to draw picture. Encourage students to draw the picture created in their own mind not their neighbor’s. Then show students the picture you created in your mind when you first read this poem. Allow students to raise their hands and compare and contrast their drawings with yours. Then instruct students to read the rest of the poem silently. “I want you all to take time after you have finished the poem to add to your first mental picture.” Choose student to read the rest of the poem aloud to class. Show and describe what teacher added to her picture. Allow various students to share their picture and what they changed.

3. “Now I want you all to read the first chapter of Say What? By Margaret Peterson Haddix. In this book Suki thinks she is hearing her parents say some really weird things. What really is going on? To find out you have to read.” Then I want you all to draw the picture that you created in your mind while reading using the other blank piece of paper. Your picture should be of one of those funny moments when Suki’s parents said something weird.” The picture will be used as an assessment of the student’s comprehension of this beginning chapter book. The picture should depict an event in the book when the parents where saying something to Suki when she was misbehaving.It is important to continue to emphasize to students that they illustrate their own ideas not those of a classmate.


DiCamillo, Kate. KidsReads.com. http://www.kidsreads.com/reviews/0689862555.asp

Levin, Neal. My Snowman. http://www.gigglepoetry.com/poem.aspx?PoemID=35&CategoryID=2

Spradlin, Meagan. Visualizing Sarah, Just Plain and Tall. http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/guides/spradlinrl.html

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Say What?. New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers ; Aladdin, c2004.

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