Read It, Picture It!


Reading to Learn
Amy Lewis


Rationale:  For students to become successful readers they must be able to construct meaning out of the text.  Students must be able to comprehend what they are reading using all the different comprehension strategies.  Visualization is one of the essential strategies needed in order to improve comprehension skills.  Visualization is a strategy where the reader constructs images about the text in their minds.  Visualizing the text helps to better understand what is taking place and research shows that it also improves a child’s satisfaction and learning.  This lesson will assist students to recognize their own visualization process and how to use it to benefit them while reading.  Students will practice constructing images in their mind about text and then convey what they visualize through drawings with explanations.


Materials:   plain drawing paper

                     Colored pencils/crayons

                     Sarah Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan (copy for each student)

                     Rubric/checklist for assessment

                     “Jimmy Jet and His TV Set,” by Shel Silverstein

                     “The Hairy Dog,” by Herbert Asquith

                     Sentence strip: This weekend I am going to visit my grandmother.

                     Sentence strip: Today I am going to ride my bike with my best friend.  



1)      Teacher will review how to read silently with students through modeling.  “Lately we have been learning how to read to ourselves, silently.  When you are reading to yourself your neighbors should not be able to hear you reading because you are not saying the words aloud.  If everyone read loud enough for their neighbors to hear it would be very distracting.  This is why it is important to stay quiet.”  Now, I will model the correct way for students to read silently.  “I am going to read a sentence aloud, and then reread it silently to demonstrate the difference.”  (Model by reading: “This weekend I am going to visit my grandmother.”)  “Did everyone see the difference when I read it silently?  You were not able to hear me.  At first you may want to move your lips along with the words but still stay quiet.  Now I want the class to try it together.”  (Display the sentence:  Today I am going to ride my bike with my best friend.”)  Students will read it aloud and then silently.  They will then discuss some differences.  Great Job! It is important that we all remember the rules of silent reading.

2)      Introduce the new topic, visualization.  “Whenever all of you were younger the books you read were full of pictures that were helpful when trying to understand the story.  Now that you have gotten older and become a better reader the books no longer have pictures in them to help see what’s going on in the story.  Even though the books don’t have pictures to look at you can construct your own pictures in your head as you read.  This is called visualization.  It can really help you gain a better understanding of the text.  Lets try it.”

3)      First model visualization strategies.  “I will show you how I use visualization as I read.”  Read the poem “The Hairy Dog,” by Herbert Asquith to the class.  “As I read that poem I saw images of the dog in my mind.  This is how I would draw him.”  Display a drawing.  “This is what I saw.  He is furry with lots of hair and it’s hard to see his face because of all the hair.  I was able to see this in my mind by visualizing all the details in the poem describing the dog.  Lets try it together as a class now.”

4)      Give each student a copy of the poem, “Jimmy Jet and His TV Set,” by Shel Silverstein.  “I want everyone to read this silently to yourself.  Remember our silent reading rules.”  Give the students time to read it.  “Now I want everyone to close your eyes and listen as I read the poem aloud to you and try to visualize it your mind.”  Read it to class while students practice visualizing.  Have students talk about it in small groups and then come together as a class to discuss it.  Explain how everyone may visualize totally different things from the same passage.  “Visualization allows us to create our own illustrations of a story.  It also helps us understand what we are reading.”

5)      Pass out a copy of Sarah Plain and Tall to each student.  Give a booktalk: “This book is about two children, Anna and Caleb, and their father, Jacob.  They live together on a farm.  Their mother died many years ago.  Jacob places an add out looking for a new wife.  Sarah answers his ad and comes to live with the family.  She comes from Main and brings with her treasures from the sea.  The family really likes having Sarah there.  Will Sarah stay with the family or does she get too homesick and leave them to return home?  You will have to read to find out what Sarah decides to do.”  Instruct students to read chapter 1 of the book independently and silently.  “As you read silently to yourself make sure you are visualizing what you are reading.  It is important to do this because good readers use mental images to get a better understanding of what is occurring in the book.  Once you complete reading all of chapter 1, get out a piece of paper and color pencils/crayons to draw a picture of something that you visualized while reading.  When you are finished with your drawing write a short statement describing the picture and what part of the chapter it came from.”


Assessment:  Each students drawing of their visualization and statement will be assessed based on the following checklist:




Student’s illustration accurately reflects a passage from Chapter One.



Student pays attention to detail.



Student statement has a clear correlation between the statement and the illustration that pertain to a passage within Chapter One.




MacLachlan, Patricia.  Sarah Plain and Tall.  New York: Harper Trophy, 1985.

Pressley, M.  1989.  Strategies That Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text.  The Elementary School Journal (Vol. 90, Num.1).  Illinois: The University of Chicago.

Silverstein, Shel.  “Jimmy Jet and His TV Set.”  Where the Sidewalk Ends: 30th Anniversary Special Edition.  Harper Collins, 2004.

Asquith, Herbert.  “The Hairy Dog.”  The Random House Book of Poetry for Children.  New York: Random House, 1983.

Tate, Natalie.  “Do you see What I See?

Duke, Coley.  “Making Mind Movies.”

Bracken, Rebecca.  “Turn Reading into Watching a Movie!”

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