Early in the school year, our Reading team approached my co-librarian Susanna and I asking if they could regularly bring their students to the library for a quick lesson and book checkout. We jumped at the chance to develop this natural partnership and began to plan the first skills lesson: visualization. We chatted with our reading colleagues, did some searching on the web, and pulled together several different activities for our students with the goal of encouraging them to use all of their senses. These strategies could be used on one day or split apart to re-emphasize the skill over several days.
Our slide deck guided us through the lesson and our student organizer gave students a place to show their work.
LISTEN: Audio Clips
Our first task involved audio clips. First, to model the task, we played an audio clip of beach and ocean sounds, encouraging the class to simply be mindful and listen for about 20-30 seconds. Then, I talked through my own visualization (seeing the aqua blue waves rolling in, dolphins leaping in the distance, palm trees waving at the shore, feeling the warm sand between toes and the hot sun on my face, smelling the salty ocean air, hearing the tropical birds and the water hitting the beach...).
Next, we had students put their heads down and listen to an audio clip of a busy city. After 20-30 seconds, we asked students to pick their heads up and draw pictures of what pictures they saw in their minds as they listened. If students didn't feel comfortable drawing, they could also write down descriptive words that came to mind.
(Tip: you can use YouTube videos as audio clips -- embed the video with good sound effects into a Google slide and make the viewer tiny in a corner of the slide. Boom! It becomes an audio clip instead of a video clip. This is key in a visualization activity).
TOUCH: What's in the paper bag?
We gathered a collection of stuffed animals and put each one into a paper bag. Without peaking, students reached into a bag, felt around for a bit, and then attempted to draw what they thought was inside the bag -- using creativity, color and details. Once finished, students shared their drawings and then pulled the animal out of the bag -- it was really fun to compare their imaginative art with the actual stuffed animals.
TEXT: Read aloud
Next, we asked our students to work through a more traditional visualization exercise. My co-librarian selected several passages from Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr's beautifully lyrical picture book Owl Moon. Students were asked to listen as she read aloud and then draw what they visualized in their heads. I loved seeing the different aspects of the passages that jumped out at students -- some drew footsteps in the snow, others focused on the hooting owl.
TEXT: Independent Reading
Finally, we asked students to consider text once again -- it was close to Halloween and we found a good passage about a haunted house. We read it aloud and gave students a print copy, encouraging them to underline the descriptive words on their papers as they read along. Using the specifics in the text, students illustrated the text.
There are lots of other ways to teach kids to visualize as they read -- what strategies do you use?
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