Ready, Set, Draw!





Reading to Learn:  Visualization

Sarah Dansak




For students to be skilled readers that actively participate in reading activities, they must be aware of strategies that facilitate comprehension and the ways in which to use them.  Without sufficient comprehension, students will find no meaningful connections to what they read and will be unmotivated to read in the future.  One strategy that's easy and fun for students to use that aids comprehension is visualization.  By visualizing story events or descriptions, students are more likely to understand the plot and other important textual elements.  When children learn to create a picture in their minds, they will become more active and engaged readers.  Through the use of multiple forms of descriptive text, this lesson will encourage active involvement and attention to detail during reading by assisting students with forming mental images as they read.




-White paper for each student and teacher

-Crayons for each student and teacher

-Assessment Worksheet for Grading (attached)

-Copy of Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

-Previously drawn model of poem visualization

-Copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein for each student and teacher (attached)




1. Introduce Visualization Strategy to Students:

Say:  Today we are going to work on visualizing as we read.  Does anyone think they know what visualizing means?  That's right; when you visualize something it means that you form a picture in your mind, even if the material does not come with pictures.  I use visualization all of the time when I read!  I bet you do too, even if you don't realize it.  Forming pictures in your mind is really helpful to do while reading and it can be done with any kind of material you might read, including stories and poems.


2. Give Students an Opportunity to Practice Visualization Skills:

Say:  Okay, let's all practice visualization together.  I'm going to read you a passage, and while I do it I want you to close your eyes.  Are you ready?  Okay, everyone close your eyes and start thinking about summer vacation.  Give students a minute to settle down and begin thinking.  Say:  I walked out of my big red house on a beautiful, sunny summer day.  The clouds were white and puffy, the bluebirds were singing happily, and the shouts of my excited friends filled my ears.  I felt the warm sun on my skin and smiled, because I knew this was the beginning of my perfect summer vacation.


3. Have Students Explain Their Own Visualizations:

Wait until most of the students have opened their eyes.  Say:  Very good job!  I hope all of you were able to form some mental pictures while you listened.  If I call on you, tell us all what you saw when I read that passage to you.  Call on individual students (five or six) and have them describe their visualizations.


4. Create a Picture to Accompany the Passage as a Class:

Say:  Wonderful job!  I'm impressed with what you all came up with.  Now we're going to see if we can create a picture together using what we imagined.  Take out paper and crayons and put on the projector.  Say:  If you don't get to draw this time, don't worry.  You will all get plenty of chances to illustrate in a little while.  Okay, let's begin.  Who has an idea for the first thing we should draw here?  Call on students individually for picture ideas, and encourage some class discussion after each one.  Have each volunteer come up to the projector and draw their idea until the class feels the picture is complete.  Say:  Wow!  This looks exactly like the perfect summer day; good job everyone!  Do you see how forming an image in your head while you listened helped you remember all of these details?  I am very impressed.


5. Discuss Silent Reading With the Class:

Say:  Alright, who can raise their hand and tell me what silent reading is?  Very good!  Is there anybody else?  Okay, now who can tell me some reasons that we read silently?  You all are exactly right; silent reading is when we read to ourselves without speaking.  We read silently so that we don't disturb others around us and so that we can read at our own pace, since some of us read slower than others.


6. Explain the Relationship Between Silent Reading and Visualization:

Say:  Sometimes when I read silently, I accidentally stop paying attention to what I'm reading because I get distracted.  Does anyone else ever have this problem?  When we read silently. It's extremely helpful to think of pictures to go with what we're reading.  This makes it much easier to pay close attention and to remember what we've read later.  Does anyone have a question about why visualizing a story in your mind helps you become a better reader?  Great!  We are going to get some more practice with one of my favorite poems, called Where the Sidewalk Ends.


7. Pass out Copies of Where the Sidewalk Ends to Each Student:

Say:  Now, I want all of you to read this poem silently to yourselves.  Remember to create a picture in your head while you're reading.  There is no right or wrong way to visualize; it's all about what you form in your own mind as you read the poem!  I will be reading silently and visualizing along with you.  Are you ready?


8. Show Students Your Visualization of the Poem:

While students are reading silently, put a copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends on the projector.  Give students time to finish reading silently, and then read the poem out loud to the class.  Say:  This poem has a lot of interesting images in it, doesn't it?  That's why I like it so much.  We are all going to draw a picture for this poem, and I bet they will all be very different because the author uses so much great imagery!  Put a previously drawn picture of your own visualization of the poem up on the projector.  Say:  Here is what I thought of in my mind when I read Where the Sidewalk Ends.  What are some things you see?  Very good!


9. Explain Your Drawing and Thought Process to Students:

Say:  The main parts of this poem that stick out in my mind are the sun that "burns crimson bright," the moon-bird resting from his flight, and the grass that "grows soft and white."  That's why my picture has a red sun, some puffy white grass, some children on a sidewalk, and a sleeping bird in it.  Who can raise their hand and tell me something else they visualized?  Very good!  Is there anyone else?


10. Give Students Individual Practice With Their Own Visualizations:

Pass out paper and crayons to each student.  Be sure to remove the poem and example drawing from the projector.  Say:  Let's take about five minutes to draw what you remember from reading Where the Sidewalk Ends.  Remember, there is no right or wrong drawing!  Also, remember that you should also visualize when you're reading stories, not just poems.  You will do this on your own in a little while.  Is everybody ready?  I can't wait to see what you will come up with!  While students are drawing, walk around to monitor individual progress and give each student a copy of Little House on the Prairie.


11. Go Over Student Drawings with Class:

Wait until most students seem to be done with their illustrations.  Say:  Wow, these are looking really nice!  If you aren't finished with yours, try to finish it up in another two or three minutes.  Don't forget to put your name on your drawings!  If you are done, please bring it to me now.  While everyone is finishing up, discuss the drawings with the class.  Say:  Everyone has done such a great job!  I'm seeing some flowers, suns, moons, birds, sidewalks, children, arrows, roads, and even some peppermints!  There is a lot of good artwork here; I can't wait to look at them up close!  I will hang up your work in the hall so everyone can see what good artists you are!


12. Introduce New Book and Follow-Up Assignment:

Say:  Okay, today' we're going to start a new book called Little House on the Prairie.  This is about a pioneer family who lives out west, and together they have lots of exciting adventures and challenges.  I really enjoyed and learned a lot from this book, and I think you all will do!  I want you to read Chapter One, and don't forget to visualize!  When you are done, draw a picture of what you saw in your mind.  You can spend more time on this picture; you can even take it home to work on.  Tomorrow we will present our pictures to each other.  I can't wait to see more of what you will draw!  Try to read all by yourself, but if you have a question, raise your hand and I'll come help you!  Let's go ahead and get started.



-When students present their illustrations to the class, assess their work based on how accurately they depictured story events and if they can successfully justify the elements included in their drawings.

-Use Assessment Checklist (attached) during each presentation.

-At the end of each presentation, ask each student to explain why one particular part of the chapter was important or memorable (further assessing comprehension)




Brock, Sarah Jane.  Reading to Learn Lesson Design:  Can You See It?


Keasal, Lauren.  Reading to Learn Lesson Design:  Can't You See?


Silverstein, Shel.  Where the Sidewalk Ends.  Where the Sidewalk Ends.  Harper Collins Publishers, New York, N.Y. 1974


Steiner, Shelley.  Reading to Learn Lesson Design:  Read It, Think It, Draw It!


Wilder, Laura Ingalls.  Little House on the Prairie.  Harper and Brothers, Scholastic.  New York, N.Y. 1935





Assessment Checklist:



Student Name:  _______________________________



Answer YES or NO:



Did the drawing accurately depict at least one important story element or event?



Was student able to explain what they included in their drawing and not forget the meanings of what they drew?



Does student's assignment appear to be complete and not rushed through?



Was student able to name and explain one particularly significant or memorable aspect or the story?











Where The Sidewalk Ends

by Shel Silverstein


There is a place where the sidewalk ends

And before the street begins,

And there the grass grows soft and white,

And there the sun burns crimson bright,

And there the moon-bird rests from his flight

To cool in the peppermint wind.


Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black

And the dark street winds and bends.

Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow

We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow

And watch where the chalk-white arrows go

To the place where the sidewalk ends.


Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,

And we'll go were the chalk-white arrows go,

For the children, they mark, and the children, they know

The place where the sidewalk ends.


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