Etch a Sketch To Stretch

Alicia Ellis

Reading to Learn


For better comprehension when reading, children should be able to visualize what they are reading. There is consistent evidence that visualization, or constructing images, facilitates children's learning of text. In this lesson, children will learn how to and practice constructing images from their reading.



Copies of the poem "One Inch Tall" by Shel Silverstein for each student

2 pieces of white paper for each student (or you can use the Sketch-to-Stretch template link provided below).


Copies of the chapter book The Island on Bird Street by Uri Orlev for each student

Assessment checklist:
        Did the student draw a picture?                                      ___Y___N
        Were the drawings accurate for the poem?                     
        Were the drawings accurate for assigned reading(s)?        ___Y___N
        Were the drawings detailed?                                          ___Y___N       
        Did the student describe in detail the events?                  ___Y___N 
        (let students describe if some can’t draw as well, do not grade the level of the art work)


Begin the lesson by explaining to the class the importance of constructing images while reading. Say: "When we draw pictures in our heads about what we read, we are more likely to remember what we read and understand it better.

Model visualization. Write the following sentence on the board and say: "I am going to read this sentence and show you how I would visualize." Read: The frog caught a fly in midair as he was jumping from one lily pad to the next. Say: "This is the picture I would construct in my head (draw it on the board as you explain your thought process). First I'm going to draw a frog in midair with its body stretched out nice and long. I'm also going to draw his really long tongue with a fly stuck to the end of it. I can picture in my head a trail of water following behind the frog as he jumps from this first lily pad to the second lily pad. The picture I have in my mind also has tall grass all around and next to the lily pads. Each of you may have seen something different than I did, but that is okay. It is just important that you make some type of picture in your mind to help you understand and remember what you are reading."

Write this sentence (on the board): The squirrel held on for dear life as the tree swayed back and forth in the powerful winds. Have the students read the sentence silently, then draw on their paper the image that they created in their mind. Have the students show their work to the rest of the class and remind them that it is okay that they do not all look the same.

Explain to the students that it is important not to try and create mental images at the same time they are reading. Tell them that they should read a short portion of the selected text and create an image from that and then proceed with the next small portion and so on.




In order to assess each student's ability to visualize as they read, pass out a copy of Shel Silverstein's poem "One Inch Tall". Instruct the students to read this poem and then draw some of the images that they construct in their mind about it.

For further assessment, have students begin to read or continue to read a chapter book. I suggest reading The Island on Bird Street. Have students keep a "sketch journal" and encourage students to sketch what they visualize in their minds as they read each chapter.

Use the assessment checklist to assess each student’s visualization and comprehension.


Pressley, Michael, et al. "Strategies That Improve Children's Memory and   Comprehension of Text". The Elementary School Journal 90.1 (1989): 9-13.

Silverstein, Shel.  Where the Sidewalk Ends. "One Inch Tall." HarperCollins Publishers, NY,1974.

Read.Write.Think. "Guided Comprehension: Visualizing using the Sketch-to-Stretch Strategy".

Stretch-to-Sketch template:

Orlev, Uri. The Island on Bird Street. Keter Publishing House, 1981.

The Reading Genie Website: How to See With Your Eyes Closed. By: Mareena Kohtala.

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