Can't You See?

Reading to Learn

By: Lauren Keasal


Being able to visualize what you are reading can make comprehension a lot easier. Through learning to construct mental images, comprehension is facilitated; therefore, the child is able to learn more about the text they are reading. Through this lesson students will learn how to construct mental images of what is happening in their reading and therefore make comprehension of the text an easier and more efficient task.

Materials: (*=one for each student)


Chalk Board

Copies of "Rain" by Shel Silverstein (Silverstein, Shel. Where the Sidewalk Ends. "Rain". HarperCollins Publishers, NY. 1974.)*

White Paper (2 Pieces per child) *



Hatchet (Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet. Simon Pulse Paperbacks: New York, New York.)*

Assessment Checklist (Circle for Yes or No):*

1. Did the student read silently? Y or N
2. Did the student draw a picture? Y or N
3. Did the picture represent something that happened? Y or N
4. Are the images or events in the picture accurate? Y or N
5. Did the student draw or describe in detail the events? Y or N (If the students are not artistic let them explain with words what they remember)


1. The lesson will begin with the teacher explaining what it means to visualize something in your head while reading. Not all books have pictures, but instead the author uses descriptive words to show you what is happening. When you read book s like this the author wants to show you what is happening through his or her words. By learning to draw pictures in our head when we read books, we can understand the story better and it makes it easier to remember.


2. The teacher should explain to the class, "It is important to make mental pictures while you are reading the text. Instead you should read a portion of the text, stop and then picture what is happening in the book. Then continue reading a little ways more and then take time to add to your mental picture.


3. Next the teacher will model visualization. First write the following sentence on the board "The cheetah sat motionless in the tall grass waiting for the perfect moment to pounce on his prey."Now tell the class: I am going to read this sentence and show you how I would visualize what I read. "The cheetah sat motionless in the tall grass waiting for the perfect moment to pounce on his prey". First, I would start to construct the picture in my head (the teacher should draw what they see in their head on the board as they explain the thought process). I see a cheetah sitting in the grass being really still. Next I will draw the tall grass that is around him as he sits motionless. Finally, I see a deer being the cheetahs prey so I will put that in front of him since he is about to pounce on his prey. When you learn to visualize things in your head, what you see may be different from everyone else, including me, but that is okay. All that is important is that you see a picture in your mind which will help you understand the story and remember what you read.


4. Now the teacher should pass out a piece of blank white paper to each child and then write this sentence on the board, "The fisherman caught a fish that splashed right back into the pond". Have the students read the sentence to themselves, silently, and then draw on their piece of paper the image they created in their mind. After they finish drawing their pictures have the children show their art word to the rest of the class and then turn to their neighbors and compare their work. See, not everyone will see the same thing in their mind.


To assess each student's ability to visualize as they read the teacher should pass out a copy of Shel Silverstein's poem "Rain". Give each student a piece of paper and tell them to read this poem silently and then illustrate what they see in their minds onto a blank piece of paper.

To further assess the students, you should have the students read the chapter book Hatchet. The teacher should give a book talk to get the students interested in the book; Hatchet is about a boy named Brian who is flying to see his family when the plane crashes in the middle of nowhere. He has nobody to help him find his way back home and the man driving the plane was killed in the crash. Will he ever be found? Will he survive? Will he ever return to his family? You will have to read to find out! Each of the students will keep a journal and after each chapter they can illustrate what they saw happen during that part of the text.

The assessment checklist and the comprehension questions can be used in order to assess each child's ability to visualize and comprehend the text they read.

Comprehension Questions for the Hatchet:

1. What do you think the boy was talking about in his head?

2. What happened to the pilot?

3. How does Brian plan on surviving?

4.  What do you think he will use the turtle eggs for?

5. What did he need the hatchet for?


Ellis, Alicia. "Etch a Sketch to Stretch."

Kohtala, Mareena. "How to See With Your Eyes Closed."

Silverstein, Shel. Where the Sidewalk Ends. "Rain". HarperCollins Publishers, NY. 1974.

Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet. Simon Pulse Paperbacks: New York, New York.

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