Paint a Picture in Your Mind!

Sarah Walton

Reading to Learn


It is very important that children are able to comprehend what they read in order to be skillful readers, so that students understand what they read. It is the main goal in reading. One of the key ways is through visualization. Visualization is when children construct images in their head. Being able to visualize text will help students comprehend what the story is about. This lesson will help students practice visualizing what they read so that they can better comprehend the text.


Poem (one copy for teacher): “My Book Report is Due Today,” Book for each student: “The Little House on the Prairie,” (written by Laura Ingalls Wilder), white paper, pencils, markers (for each student), assessment checklist for each student (provided at the end of the lesson): five comprehension questions for The Little house on the Prairie.


1.      “Today we are going to learn a new skill that will help us comprehend what we read. It is called visualization. This will help us remember what the story is about and picture it in our minds. We are going to practice visualizing what we read so that we can remember what the story is about. We will do this by reading silently. This is when we read without moving our mouths. Why do we do this? Yes, because it is quieter, and then we can concentrate on what we are reading. If we read out loud all at once, we will not be able to concentrate very well because you would hear everyone else too. So again, when you read it to yourself inside your head, you are able to picture it better and concentrate on what you are reading.”

2.      Before you read the book by yourself, I want us to practice together how to visualize. I am going to read the poem out loud to you. While I read, I want you to close your eyes, and visualize, or create a picture in your head, of what you think is happening in the story. I will read the poem, My Book Report is Due Today. I will then ask the students what they visualized in their heads, as I read. I will also give an example for the students, and tell them what I pictured in my head as I read the first stanza. I will say, “As I read this, I pictured a boy who is in panic about his homework that is due, that he does not have done to turn in! I also think that this boy is a procrastinator, which means he waits till the last minute to do things, which is not the best choice!” I will then say, “Now you tell me what picture you imagined in your head as I read the poem.”


My Book Report is Due Today

My book report is due today.

I haven't finished yet.

In fact, I haven't started,

which I'm coming to regret.


I haven't even read the book.

I put it off so long.

I thought I'd have a lot of time.

It looks like I was wrong.


I'd ask my older brother

what this book is all about,

but he's already left for school

and cannot help me out.


I'd hustle to the movie store

and rent the DVD,

but I don't even have the time

to watch it on TV.


I guess I'll have to fake it

and pretend I read the book.

Then write a bunch of nonsense

and assorted gobbledygook.


It's either that, or do the thing

my conscience knows is right:

I'll claim I'm sick and stay at home

and finish it tonight.

--Kenn Nesbitt

3. “I am now going to give everyone a copy of The Little House on the Prairie. The Ingalls family decides to sell their house in Wisconsin, and move to the Indian Territory in Kansas. Once they get there, they build a house to live in. The family soon becomes very ill from a disease called malaria. I want you to read this story to find out what happens to the Ingalls family. As you read, remember to read silently and to yourself. I want you to visualize what the story is about, just as we practiced with the poem. Once you are finished reading chapter one, I want you to draw a detailed picture of what happened in the story on the white sheet paper. After you finish drawing your picture, I want you to write a few sentences describing what you drew. This will help to show me that you comprehend the text. Once you are done, turn your papers in to me at my desk. We will continue to do this throughout the next chapters in The Little House on the Prairie and then share them with our classmates to see if they are similar or different.”


I will look at the students’ visualization pictures and statement sentences they wrote describing their picture to assess their comprehension of chapter one. I will also use a visualization checklist. I will also have the students answer five comprehension questions to make sure they understand what they read. This will also help me assess the students.

Visualization Checklist:

Did the student pay attention to detail?   Yes___      No___

Student’s illustration accurately reflects a passage from the chapter.   Yes___   No___

Statement sentences have a clear correlation between the statement and the illustration that relate to an event within the chapter. Yes ___   No___

Does the student comprehend the text?  Yes ___   No___


Comprehension Questions:

Who were the main characters in chapter one of The Little House on the Prairie?

Where did the Ingalls family move to?

Why are they moving?

Describe what the setting looked like (of where they moved to).

Are there any nicknames for any of the main characters?



Wilder, Laura I. (1935). The Little House on the Prairie. New York, New York: Harper & Brothers, Later, Scholastic.

Danielle Ivey. “Can You Picture It?”

Nesbitt, Kenn. (2005). My Book Report is Due Today. Retrieved April 12, 2009.

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