I have been asked a few times how I use teaching visualization in the classroom to promote writing and improve reading comprehension. Last year, I created Visualize a Story so that others could have a fun way to introduce or reinforce this skill to their students. It’s based on an old idea that was presented to me when I first started teaching.
I thought I’d demonstrate to you how I teach kids to visualize in my classroom. First, choose a book. It can be any book but the ones that are great are adventure stories (and ones that have artifacts that are easy for the teacher to find!). Preferably, these books are ones the students have not seen. The one I chose today was: The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone by Timothy Basil Ering. This is a great quirky story about a boy who lives in Cementland. It is dark and gloomy there. He wants to find treasure. What he finds is a box with flower and vegetable seeds in it.
He’s excited to find these and is expecting to see the color when he opens the package. Unfortunately, the seeds are dark in color. He decides to plant them anyways but some villains steal the seeds. So, desperate, he creates a monster out of socks and buttons that he finds in the garbage dump. The monster protects the seeds and scares away the villains. Finally, the boy and the monster think to put water on the seeds and they sprout! The first sign of color in Cementland. The villains (one of which is a fruit fly!) decide not to steal them anymore because it is beautiful! By the end of the story, Cementland is full of gorgeous vegetation!
So, the first step to helping kids visualize is to find some artifacts from the book. Here are the artifacts that I collected: a watering can – half full of water. Why did I actually put the water in? Just to add intrigue. I walked around the classroom to show them the water! As I present the clues, students sketch them into the boxes.
The next artifact was a sock and button which the boy used to create the monster.
Clue 3 was the dark. I closed the blinds and turned out the light. The only thing shining here was my lamp. Of course, not being much of a photographer, it looks lighter than it really was. The kids were so excited to see “dark”!
Clue #4 was garbage/the dump! All our garbage cans were emptied and clean so I took a screen shot a picture of the dump. How exciting!
Our next artifact was a box… students loved the “treasure chest” look.
Our last clue was what was inside. (At the beginning of the year with my second graders, I would do the artifacts in order. Now that it is later in the year, I mixed them up a bit. The other thing to decide is if you want to put a character as a clue. Some kids like that and it helps them, better writers prefer to create their own. )
I even munched the carrot while they drew and they laughed! (It was a great segway into our first nutrition lesson later.)
Finally, we made connections to the artifacts. “What do any of these clues remind you of?” One student had just returned from Disneyland so he made that connection to the dark – the Tower of Terror.
There is also a spot to brainstorm words they may use later in their story.
Finally, I explain to students that they will be writing a story using all 6 artifacts. There will be 23 different stories using the same 6 clues! “Later, I will read the story that the author of the book came up with using those same 6 clues.” Students get a chance to share their writing aloud as usual. It’s GREAT to hear the variety. The creativity is endless and students get to appreciate different writing styles and “voices”. This is a fantastic way to motivate and ignite the reluctant writer!
It’s FREE if you’d like to give it a try. Just click here.
I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope it helps you to use visualizing. I’d love to hear about your experiences with this or any other strategy that works for you. Let’s collaborate!