Picture Perfect!

Reading to Learn Lesson Design: Visualization

Lashawnda Brundidge


Rationale: After students become fluent readers, it’s imperative they learn good comprehension skills, which is the ultimate goal of reading.  The primary goal in reading is comprehension, or understanding what was read. In order to better comprehend a text, we as readers can use strategies, such as visualizing, in order to truly understand the text. One of the ways students can comprehend better is by using visualization. Visualization is an excellent way for readers to make connections between text ideas and their own background knowledge. It should be our goal to teach readers how to generate representational images. This lesson will facilitate young readers in monitoring their reading comprehension by generating mental images as they read.



Copies of Hatchet by Gary Paulsen for each student,

White computer paper


Assessment checklist




1. Have class sit on the floor in a circle around you. Tell the class that we are going to learn a new strategy that we can use while we read. Ask the class “Does anybody know what visualization means?” (Wait for responses). Right! When we visualize while we read, we are creating mental images in our heads of what the text is about. Basically, it’s like making mental movies in our head. We are transforming the words that we read into detailed images. Visualizing helps us understand what the text is really about and improve our comprehension. Whether you know it or not, you have probably visualized something at some point in your life.

2.  Say-I'm going to show you how I visualize, or see things in my mind. I do this while reading so that I can see exactly what is going on. Tell students that we are going to travel to a place far far away. Let's relax, get comfortable, close our eyes, and open our minds. I am going to tell you all about the place that we are going and I want you to imagine in your mind that you are there. Let's picture all of the things that I describe so that you feel that you can really see it. Here we go. I smell sunscreen and coconut scented lotions. I feel smooth sand between my toes and cool, calm waves washing over my feet. I hear seagulls and the wind blowing in the palm trees. I also hear steel drums playing somewhere in the distance. I see pretty white and pink shells scattered across the sand. And I feel the warm sun on my skin." Have group discussion. "Where did we travel to? How did you know it was the beach?  What did you see? Give me a thumbs up if you have been to the beach. Did you picture that beach in your mind? If you haven't been to the beach, have you seen pictures of the beach before? Is that what you pictured?"  Allow the class to share what they saw in their mind. Ask, "Why do you think some of us had different pictures in our mind?"  Point out that we all visualize differently because we draw from our own background knowledge and experiences. "We use what we already know. It is a good thing that people have different visualizations. Do you think that you could draw a picture of the beach I described? Everyone's would look a little different but that's okay! “

3. Say- “Now let’s draw a picture of what we just visualize in our heads”. Give each student a white paper and crayons. Tell students they are going to draw their mental images they had when we visualize. Allow a few minutes for students to complete their drawing. Teacher will have a drawing too. After ten or fifteen minutes, teacher show her picture and describe the picture. Next, allow students to share their drawings. Tell students it’s ok to have different images as long as it has the same concept. Tell students that we all visualize differently because we draw from our own background knowledge and experiences. "We use what we already know. It is a good thing that people have different visualizations. Do you think that you could draw a picture of the beach I described? Everyone's would look a little different but that's okay! “

4. Tell students, "One of my favorite things about reading is the feeling that you get when you can imagine what you're reading in your mind and you feel like you're really there. When I read my favorite books, especially the Harry Potter series, I can imagine myself inside Hogwarts and having great adventures with Harry and his friends. Reading can take you to a whole different world in your mind if you visualize as you read. Today we are going to learn how using our imagination and visualizing while we read can help us to understand and enjoy books."

5. "Today we are going to read a book by Gary Paulsen called "Hatchet". I can still remember the visualization I had in my mind when I read this book in the 5th grade and I want you all to experience your own too." Tell students it’s their turn to practice visualizing.

6. Give a book talk to introduce the book. "The story is about Brian Robeson's adventures as he begins a journey to visit his father. His plane crashes in the wilderness and he is left to survive on his own. Do you think a 13-year-old boy can survive in the wild with no help and no adults? What will he do? Will he be rescued?  We will have to read to find out…" I know your brains are tingling with mental images, but wait for further instructions.

7. Say: Now that we have an idea of what our story will be about, we are ready to start silently reading. Today at your desk, I want you to read the very first chapter of this book, and while you read, I want you to focus on visualizing throughout the text: the characters, the setting, etc. If you need to take notes as you read, please feel free to do so. Once you have finished reading the first chapter and have visualized it thoroughly, you are going to take a sheet of white computer paper, and using your markers/crayons/colored pencils, you are going to draw a detailed picture of what you visualized while reading. This will be going for a grade, so I really want you to focus on what you read, and work hard to create a detailed and elaborate drawing. Once you have completed your drawing, you will write one or two detailed sentences explaining what your picture is about. After everyone has finished, we will all share our pictures and sentences and compare and contrast them to make sure your pictures included all of the characters and the events in this first chapter.


I will assess the students' comprehension by looking at their drawings and sentences. I will use the following checklist:

1. Student's illustration accurately reflects a passage from the chapter.   Yes   No      

2. Student is able to orally explain their drawing and the part of the story it represents.    Yes    No       

3. Student's statement demonstrates a clear understanding between the statement and the illustrations that pertain to a passage within the chapter.  Yes    No       

4. Student includes each of the characters from the chapter in his/her illustration.      Yes    No



Paulsen, G. Hatchet. New York: Simon & Schuster. (1987).

Megan Castleberry (2011) Picture This, Picture That, Paint a Picture in Your Mind! http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/doorways.html

Grimes, Susan. (2009). I Spy, With My Little Mind, Something That Is…http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/projects/grimesrl.html

Return to website: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/rendezvous.html