Creating Images to Fill in the Holes

Reading to Learn
Heather Lewis


The most important goal of reading is comprehension, and an effective method for students to improve their comprehension is visualizing, or using the text on the page to create a mental image. By doing this, comprehension is increased because the student has essentially digested the text in two different formats - textually and visually. In other words, the student not only reads the text to create meaning, but also creates a picture in his or her mind to build meaning and make comprehension easier. This lesson is designed to help students learn how to visualize through practicing creating mental images of text and then putting those images on paper.



1. Tell the students: "Today we are going to learn a special trick that helps us to understand the books we read a little better. Before I tell you about this trick, though, let's review silent reading. Remember, when we read silently, we say the words silently in our head and do not move our lips. It is also important to read silently because if everyone is reading out loud, it will be very difficult to understand what we are reading! Let's all read these sentences together out loud (point to poster on the board): 'I am so excited that it is summertime! The weather is sunny and warm, and I get to play outside all the time! Today I am going to run in the sprinkler and draw on the sidewalks with chalk.'  Wow! That was very difficult for me to concentrate on my reading because I kept hearing everyone's voices. Let's try reading the sentences again, but this time, read them silently. (Give the students time to read the sentences.) Was it easier to understand what you were reading when everyone was reading out loud or when everyone was reading silently? Right! It was much easier to read when everyone was reading silently because we were not being distracted. When we use our new trick, we will need to read silently."

2. Tell the students: "I know you are excited to learn about this trick I have been talking about! It is called visualization! Has anyone ever heard this word before? If you listen carefully, you can hear the word visual in visualization. When I think of visuals, I think of the pictures! This is a big clue to how visualization works! To visualize, when you read, you create pictures in your mind about what you are reading. This makes understanding what you are reading a lot easier, and we all want to be able to understand the things we read because this means that we are becoming better readers!"

3. Tell the students: "Before you try visualizing on your own, I am going to show you how I would visualize so that you know how to do it! I am going to read our sentences we read earlier, and I am going to explain to you what I am picturing in my mind after each sentence. 'I am so excited that it is summertime.' 'I see a little girl, about seven years old, with a big smile on her face because it is summertime and she has just finished school. 'The weather is sunny and warm, and I get to play outside all the time.' Now I am picturing a beautiful day with the sun shining high in the sky. There is not a cloud in the sky, and the little girl is running and skipping around her front yard. 'Today I am going to run in the sprinkler and draw on the sidewalk with chalk.' Now I see the little girl running back and forth through the sprinkler in her pink bathing suit to keep cool in the warm weather and then using all different colors of chalk to create pretty pictures of flowers on the sidewalk."

4. Tell the students: "Now it is your turn to use this trick to help you understand things you read. I am going to read a few sentences out loud to you, and while I am reading, I want you to close your eyes and make pictures in your head that go along with what I am reading. Alright, go ahead and close your eyes. 'I am going on vacation with my family. We will get in the car tomorrow and drive all the way there. When we get there I will be so excited! There will be lots of fun things for us to do!' You may open your eyes now. Raise your hand and tell me what you were picturing! I am very interested to see what each of you visualized, because I bet everyone pictured something a little different, because the story never mentioned any specific details, like where the family was going on vacation. (Listen to everyone's visualizations.) Each of you did an excellent job visualizing, and I loved how everyone's visualizations were so different!"

5. Tell the students: "Since we have each become so great at visualizing, I am going to have you use your new skill with a wonderful book. It is called Holes. Holes is about a little boy named Stanley Yelnats who gets sent to a summer camp for stealing a pair of very valuable sneakers, even though he really did not steal them. You might be thinking that summer camp is not a very good punishment, but this is not the usual summer camp. All of the campers at this camp do not get to spend their time playing games and swimming in the lake; instead, the weather is unbearably hot and the lake is all dried up, and each day every camper is required to dig a huge hole in the dried up lake. When Stanley gets to the camp and has to start digging the holes, he becomes certain that there is a reason the warden is having them dig the holes, like maybe she is looking for something! Do you think Stanley might be right? Well, we will be reading this book for the next couple weeks and we will get to find out what happens! Today I will read the first chapter of Holes out loud to you. Remember to make pictures in your mind while you are hearing the words so that you can better understand what is being read. (Read the first chapter of Holes aloud to the students.) I hope everyone created some great pictures in their minds. Raise your hand and tell me about some of the pictures you created. Those are all great!"

6. Pass out a copy of Holes to each student. Tell the students: "I would like for you to read the second chapter of Holes on your own now. Remember, read silently and create pictures in you head of what you are reading so that everyone can really understand the story well! Once you have finished, come get a piece of white paper and illustrate what you have visualized. On the back of the paper write three sentences explaining what you have read."

7. The illustration and sentences will be used for assessment. Have each student explain their illustration, and mentally note whether each student has included accurate components of the chapter, including main characters, settings, and important events.


Sachar, L. (1998). Holes. New York, NY: Dell Yearling.

Lynch, Heather. Can you see it?. Retrieved April 15, 2007, from:  

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