Becoming the illustrator



Reading to learn lesson


By Lindsey Wise


Rational: This lesson is designed to introduce visualization to students. Visualization increases reading comprehension because students must understand what is being read in order to create a picture in their mind of what they are reading. This lesson will teach students how to visualize a text by drawing pictures of what they see while reading or while being read to thus promoting comprehension.




color pencils

white paper (at least 2 sheets per student)

overhead copy of the sentences mentioned in step 2

Charolotte's Web (one per student)



1. Explain why visualization is important. "Today we are going to be reading stories and practice seeing in our minds what we have read. This is important because you can better understand the story䴊and even enjoy it more䴊when you are able to create visualizations of the characters or setting. You do not always have illustrations when you read, so you have to become the illustrator!"

2. "Painting a picture in our mind is similar to why we read silently. Just like we must see the picture in our mind, we must also read the words in our mind. We have been working on how to read either in whisper, with just our lips moving, and completely silent. We read silently so that we do not disturb others as we read. I am going to place a couple of sentences on the overhead, and I want you to read them silently.

A minute later, Fern was seated on the floor in the corner of the kitchen with her infant between her knees, teaching it to suck from the bottle. The pig, although tiny, had a good appetite and caught on quickly.

"Who are the characters in these two sentences? (Fern, the pig? What is Fern doing? (teaching the pig to feed from a bottle) Where is Fern sitting? (in the corner of the kitchen)"

3. "Now that we have practiced reading in our minds, we are going to practice illustrating or visualizing in our minds. I want everyone to put their heads on their desk, relax, and close your eyes. Listen to me very closely. Imagine you are sitting outside and it's very hot. The sun is so bright that you have to squint your eyes. You are really thirsty and there is a cold glass filled with ice next to you. What is in the glass? Where are you outside: at your house, by the pool, near a pond? Are there other people with you? Really pay attention to what your scene looks like because I want you to describe it in a minute. Okay, everyone open your eyes. Let's talk about our visualizations." Allow time for 2 to 3 students to discuss what they saw.

4. "We just practiced seeing a picture in our mind. Now, I'm going to read you a few sentences from a new book we are going to start reading titled Charolette's Web. I want you to take the blank piece of paper I have given you and with your pencil, draw a picture or pictures of what I am reading to you. You may have to close your eyes to really focus on what the scenery may be in the story.

"What's that?" he demanded. "What's Fern got?" "She's got a guest for breakfast," said Mrs. Arable."Wash your hands and face, Avery!"

"Let's see it!" said Avery, setting his gun down. "You call that miserable thing a pig? That's a fine specimen of a pig䴊it's no bigger than a white rat." "Wash up and eat your breakfast, Avery!" said his mother. "The school bus will be along in a half an hour."

"Can I have a pig, too, Pop?" asked Avery. "No, I only distribute pigs to early risers," said Mr. Arable."Fern was up at daylight, trying to rid the world of injustice. As a result, she now has a pig. A small one to be sure, but nevertheless a pig. It just shows what can happen if a person gets out of bed promptly. Let's eat!"

"What were some of the things or people mentioned? (Mr. Arable, Mrs. Arable, Avery, Fern, the pig, the gun, breakfast) Where is a place where a family might be gathered for breakfast before the school bus comes? (the kitchen) So what is something that you could draw? (a kitchen with the 4 characters sitting around the table, maybe a gun propped up against the counter, Fern holding a little pig)

4. Now students will read independently, practicing the new strategy of visualization. "I want you to continue reading chapter 1 of Charlotte's Web (pages 1-7). Wilbur was loved and raise by a girl named Fern, but now he has been placed in the barn with the other animals. He soon befriends Charlotte, the spider who lives in the barn and tries to save Wilbur from the pig's gloomy fate. Will Charlotte be able to save Wilbur? You may draw as you read or after you have finished reading the chapter. Start on a new sheet of paper and title it Chapter 1. When you are ready, you may begin reading."

5. Assessment: The assessment for this activity will be their drawings of chapter one. By these drawings, I will be able to assess their ability to draw what a story is trying to illustrate. In order to know what the story is trying to illustrate, they must comprehend the texts; therefore, the drawings will also assess comprehension. I will also assess their comprehension with questions about the text.



"Paint a Picture in Your Head" by Mandy Fleming

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White (1952). 

Return to Projects index