First, make it make sense.Most first graders have never heard of “visualizing,” but they may have heard of a “vision” test at the doctor. Remind them the vision test at the doctor tests their eyes and how well they see. Then make the connection for them…”vision, visual, visualizing means to see.” However, visualizing is when we put a picture in our head.
Second, practice mental pictures.Once they know you are putting “a picture in their head,” let them practice this. Ask them to put a picture of recess in their head. What do you see in your head? Ask them for specifics. Who is on the swings? Where is the teacher standing? Throw them a curve ball to challenge their vision…do you see a giraffe at recess?
Third , connect it to their story.For an introduction to their story, In The Mountains from Reading A-Z, I asked students to visualize an animal that has stripes. “What do you see in your head?” “A zebra.” “A tiger.” “A skunk.” Make sure you are thinking of an animal that would be in the mountains. We discussed each adjective in book by visualizing which animals could be in our book. Once we have visualized the animals, I provide the book to the students to match their visualized animals with the animals in the book. The striped animal is really a chipmunk...not a zebra.
Make an anchor chart.I believe in anchor charts. It’s important to have students participate in making charts for the classroom. They will be more invested in the charts and will be more inclined to refer to a chart they have helped make. I provided the students with a clip art representation of visualizing. As a group we decided on the definition. We added the first sentence, first orally, then on paper, one student writing at a time. Then we added the second sentence, using the same routine.
Practice putting mental pictures on to paper or the dry erase board.Give each student a chalkboard and chalk, paper and pencil, or dry erase board and marker. They will write a letter you describe orally. Have the students close their eyes while you describe a particular letter. Tell them to put a pencil in their head and write with it as they hear the directions. “I’ll make a capital letter. I am visualizing a straight stick down. Jumping up tot he top and curving around to the middle, then curving around to the bottom.” Repeat the directions once more and ask the students to make the letter on the dry erase board. I’ll make the letter on my board and reveal it to them…then, they will reveal their letter. Repeat this “game” with 4 or 5 letters.
Practice matching mental images to words.Students are given a short paragraph and 2 pictures. After reading the short paragraph and visualizing the picture, look at the two picture choices and match the words to the text. Making a 2-part visualizing exercise is easy. Copy the paragraphs on colored paper (paper must be dark enough students can’t see images through the paper). Copy the picture choices on white paper. Staple the color copy to the top and cut the color paper on the lines. Read the first paragraph to your students while they have their eyes closed. Let them read the paragraph a second time. After the second reading, students need to lift the flap with the paragraph and circle the correct picture.
Make them write about it.Finally, as part of the reading comprehension test on Friday, I asked the students to write, "What is visualizing?" For a moment, they were stunned. I reassured them...write what visualizing is and why they would visualize when they read. I told them to "visualize" our poster. Their written responses were great.
As luck would have it...when we were at my brother's house for a family birthday party this visualizing activity was on the refrigerator. My niece was asked to visualize what would happen on Halloween. Very cute flip book!
I hope these visualizing tips help your students "see" the story more clearly.
CLICK HERE for the visualizing activity, or click the cover below.