Seeing The Boxcar Children!

Reading to Learn

By: Morgan Montgomery



Rationale: Comprehension is the key goal when teaching reading. One way to ensure success when teaching children comprehension is through visualization. Visualization means that the student will construct images in their heads as they read to reinforce the events that are taking place in the text. In the following lesson, visualization will be further explained and children will have practice in visualizing what they read.


                Copies of The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner for each student

                Copy of "My Father Looks Like Frankenstein" by Kenn Nesbitt

                Copy of "Daddy Fell Into the Pond" by Alfred Noyes

                White paper (2 sheets per student)



                Dry Erase Board and Markers (for teacher)

                Visualization Checklist

                                -Why did the children live in a boxcar?                                                                    Y____     N____

                                -Why did the children runaway from grandfather?                                                    Y____      N____

                                -How do the children get their basic necessities?                                                      Y____      N____



1.I will begin the lesson by reviewing with children how important comprehension is in the reading process and how we can better comprehend stories through visualization. Boys and girls, today we are going to talk more about comprehension, which is the most important skill we must have to be a skillful reader. Who can remember what comprehension is? Right! Comprehension is remembering what we have read. Until this year, we have had a lot of pictures in our books to help us remember what we have read. But what happens if we do not have pictures to help us comprehend the story?  Good! We have to make our own pictures in our head to help us understand the story. Today, we will begin practice with constructing these mental images when we begin reading The Boxcar Children and with special poems I have selected.

2.I will model for children how to visualize something from text by reading the poem, "My Father Looks Like Frankenstein" by Kenn Nesbitt. Now, I will model how we visualize images when I read "My Father Looks Like Frankenstein." While I read, I am going to picture images in my head to help me understand what is going on in the poem. Read poem. Now, I am going to draw on the board what I pictured in my head. When I read this poem, I pictured a scary mom, dad, and sister because words like 'vampirilla' and 'frankenstein' make me think of scary things. They all had scary teeth and were very tall. Draw tall people with very scary teeth on the board. What did you picture as I read that story?

3.Next, I will give children the opportunity to practice drawing their visualizations when we read the poem, "Daddy Fell Into the Pond." Now, I am going to read a new poem, "Daddy Fell Into the Pond." Just by the title of the poem, I want you to begin thinking of what this poem might be about. As I read the poem, I want you to make pictures in your head about what is going on in the story. Read Poem. Now, on the sheet of paper you have in front of you, I want you to use your crayons and markers to draw what that poem was about. Think about the small details that made the poem funny and tell me what you saw. I will walk around the room to make sure students understand the concept of the activity and I will select a few children's pictures to show to the class.

4.Boys and girls, I think you are beginning to understand how we visualize when we read stories. Now, we are going to put our new comprehension skill to use when we read The Boxcar Children. This book is about four children and their dog that run away from their cruel grandfather when their parents die. However, they do not find a home to live in. Instead, they find an old boxcar! They find odd jobs in the town they live in so they can buy food, but it is a hard life for these four children. Do the boxcar children live in the boxcar during the whole book? Do they find a family to take care of them? To find out, we will have to read The Boxcar Children!

5.For your assignment today, I want you to visualize the story as you read chapter one silently. Then, I want you to draw a detailed picture on your other sheet of white paper that shows me you comprehended the text. When you have completed your picture, I want you to write a few sentences explaining what you drew. Please turn in your papers to me when you are finished.





The students' visualization pictures and statement sentences will be used to assess their comprehension of chapter one. I will use my visualization checklists to make sure they understood the key points of chapter one


Nesbitt, Kenn. "My Father Looks Like Frankenstein."

Noyes, Alfred. "Daddy Fell Into the Pond."

Smith, Leah. "Picture it!"

Warner, Gertrude. The Boxcar Children.  Albert Whitman and Company: 1989.

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