Reading is Seeing: Let's Visualize!

Every year, I spend a lot time teaching my third graders why it is so important to visualize a text. Visualizing is a proven way to improve reading comprehension and help engage readers with a text in ways that make it personal and memorable.  Students gain more of an understanding of a text when they use specific words to create mental images.  The more students practice visualizing, the more automatic this skill will become.

We are currently reading one of my favorite class read-alouds, The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies.  (Side note--this is a great book that encompasses reading, math, and social studies. Plus, it leaves the students wanting to read the sequel!!)  The Lemonade War is about a brother (Evan) and a sister (Jessie) challenging each other to an all-out war to see who can sell the most lemonade before school starts.  As I started reading chapter 7 the other day, I had an "ah-ha" moment.  A few days prior to reading the chapter to my class, I was browsing on Pinterest one evening and came across a post about visualizing a setting from Teaching in Room 6.  I saved the pin, not thinking I would be utilizing it so quickly!  But as I was reading chapter 7 to my class, I thought now would be a perfect time to use the activity.

Needless to say, the lesson was a success!  I just have to share!!

Chapter 7, which is called Location, Location, Location, is an important chapter for Evan in the story because he decides that he needs to change his lemonade stand location to a place where there are more thirsty customers.  Turns out, this chapter would be perfect to visualize setting.

After reading the chapter, I handed the students a paper that displayed the part that described Evan's new location.  I had the students dissect this part of the chapter by finding specific text evidence to prove the setting of Evan's lemonade stand.  I didn't just have the students look for the when and where the story took place.  The students had to look for text evidence to prove the weather, environment, and landscape.

After completing the chart, I handed the students a piece of white construction paper.  The students had to use the text and visualize Evan's location of the lemonade stand by drawing the setting.  But there was one stipulation.  The students could not draw anything that they could not prove from the text.  Whatever they visualized, they had to prove it by cutting out the sentence from the text, and gluing it on their picture.  I used a 4-point rubric (which I printed on post-it notes to stick to the back of their construction paper) to grade their end product.  Check out some of the finished results below!  The students really enjoyed this activity and it was helpful to see which students were able to use the text evidence to prove their drawing.

What are some of your favorite visualizing activities?


  1. What a great visualizing activity!! The Lemonade War is one of my favorite chapter books. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for sharing. This comprehension strategy has most definitely got my wheels turning. I can't wait to try similar ideas with my students and share with my colleagues.