Making a Movie in our Mind

Reading to Learn
Ashley Wild

Rationale: Comprehension is the main goal of reading and in order to be efficient and fluent readers, students must be able to understand what they are reading.  One strategy is representational imagery, or visualization.  This strategy requires students to visualize events in the story and is especially helpful when children process concrete stories with little to no pictures.  In this lesson, the students will learn to use their imagination to create mental pictures as they read sentences, paragraphs, and chapters.


Materials: class set of Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, paper; and pencil



  1. Review with the students how to read silently and then introduce the visualization strategy.  “Today we will be reading silently.  What does it mean to read silently?  That’s right.  When you read you say the words in your head instead of out loud.  So should anyone hear you while you read?  No!  Today we are going to learn how to picture what we are reading in our head as we read silently.  It’s kind of like making a movie in our mind and imagining and picturing what’s happening in the story.”
  1. “You’ve read many books with pictures in them and those helped you keep up with what was happening in the story, haven’t you?  But you are going to be reading lots of books, though, that do not have pictures in them.  When you are reading these books, you must create your own pictures in your head to help guide your understanding of the story.” 
  1. Hand out the class set of Pippi Longstocking.  The teacher will model how to visualize the first two sentences of the book.  “Here is the book Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren.  I am going to read the first two sentences of the book and demonstrate for you how to create your own pictures in your mind.  Way out at the end of a tiny little town was an old overgrown garden, and in the garden was an old house, and in the house lived Pippi Longstocking.  She was nine years old, and she lived there all alone.  After reading those two sentences, I am going to close my eyes and think about what I just read.  I see a young girl scared and all alone in a big, old house in the middle of nowhere.  If we keep reading and visualizing, we will find out why she is all alone and where her parents are.”
  1. Finish reading the page to the class and have the students close their eyes to visualize what’s happening.  “Now I want all of you to close your eyes.  I am going to finish reading the first page, and I want you to create your own pictures in your mind of what’s happening in the story.”  Read and have the students share the pictures that they created in their minds.
  1. Read the next page and have the students follow along as they try to visualize.  “Now I want all of you to keep your eyes open and follow along as I am reading and try to visualize what’s happening in the story.  It might be a little bit harder to visualize because you are reading the words, but that is why we are practicing together before you do it silently on your own.”   
  1. Have the students read the first chapter silently and then discuss with a reading partner what they visualized as they read.  “Now I want you to read the rest of the first chapter silently.  When you are finished, I want you to get with your reading partner and discuss the images that you saw as you were reading.  If you finish before your partner, reread the chapter or sit with your eyes closed to visualize even more.” 
  1. Have the students read the second chapter silently and then draw an illustration that depicts the chapter.  “Next you are going to be reading and visualizing on your own.  I want you to read the second chapter silently and then take out a sheet of paper and a pencil.  I want you to draw what you visualized for that chapter and turn it in.  You may draw several scenes from the chapter or choose your favorite one.  You will then explain your drawing on the back.” 


Assessment: Collect each child’s drawing and assess it for an accurate depiction of the chapter.  Check to see whether the student understood the main ideas, fine details, and the order of events.   



Copenhaver, Liz. “Seeing is Understanding.”

Lindgren, Astrid. Pippi Longstockin. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1950.

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