“Picture Perfect”

Reading to Learn

Carlie Larson

Rationale: The most important thing for students to learn from reading is comprehension.  Comprehension is the ability to decipher and understand the main idea of a given material to read.  A good way to practice comprehension with students is visualization.  This is when a reader creates a mental picture of the events taking place in the story, in their head, in order to help him/her remember the main idea.  This lesson will teach students how to visualize while reading and how to use visualization to improve comprehension by having them read a narrative story and create a picture in their minds.  They will then have to use this picture to explain the events of the story.


White board and marker

Copy of "Bad Hair Day" by Susan Hood

“My Elephant is Missing” by Ken Nesbitt

Drawing paper and crayons for students

Assessment check sheets for teacher to use (one per student):

            Did the student explain the main events of the book?

            Did the student explain his/her drawing and how it relates to the book?


  1. Today we are going to learn about comprehension.  Comprehension means that we understand what we are reading.  Sometimes when we read we have a hard time remembering what is going on in the story.  Something that we can do to help ourselves remember is to create a picture in our minds of the events taking place in the story.  Today we're going to be creating a picture in our minds while we begin reading a new book called Bad Hair Day by Susan Hood.  Before we start with the book we're though, we’re going to paint a picture in our head about the following poem.  Ask students to close their eyes and listen as you read, “My Elephant is Missing” by Ken Nesbitt.  After you read it tell the students, "When I read this I imagined a huge elephant running down the street away from home!  First I imagine the elephant being mad about taking a bath.  Then I visualize the sneaking around the yard trying to stay away from his bathtub.  Sometimes it helps you understand the story better, if you can imagine the pictures in your head in the order that they happen.”  I want you all to tell me some of the pictures you had in your mind when I read this."  Call on the students one by one and have them sketch out their picture on the board.
  2. After finishing the practice activity, hand out copies of “Bad Hair Day” to the students.  Before the students begin reading give a short book talk: "This story is about a young girl who got an awful hair cut at home and now she thinks she’ll have to wear a hat forever.  On the way to get her hair fixed, however, the little girl came across people who also were not pleased with their hair cuts.  I wonder if the little girl will get her hair fixed and how it’s going to be fixed."  We’ll have to read the book to find out.  Explain to them that they will be given some time to read the first few pages.  "While you read I want you to think about what pictures you can make in your mind.  After you finish the first three pages, you will draw your picture in your head on paper.  You don’t have to draw everything but make sure that you illustrate what you think the most important parts of the story were. 
  3. After giving the student sufficient time to read the first few pages and complete their pictures, I will have them share with the class one at a time.  When the students get up to share, they should be prepared to give a short synopsis of the pages as well as explain their drawing and how it helped them to better understand the story. 

Assessment:  While the students sharing their work with the class, the teacher will use the assessment sheet in order to check for use of visualization and comprehension.


Nesbitt, K. "My Elephant is Missing."  http://www.poetry4kids.com/poem-171.html

Hood, S. Bad Hair Day. Gosset and Dunlap: New York, NY. September 1999. 

Broach, S. Movies in Your Mind http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/persp/broachrl.html

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