Visualizing Activities for First Grade

June 5, 2019

Teaching students to visualize while they read helps them to connect and comprehend the stories they hear and read in the classroom. I wanted to share some activities to help students visualize in first and second grade.

Our Feelings:

I like using this activity to show students that our visualizations are often very personal. Based on on our own past experiences, we tend to picture slightly different things even when reading the same text. For this introductory activity, I choose three different feeling words and have students draw a quick sketch showing what comes to mind when they think of that word. I don’t want students just drawing a face with that emotion, instead I invite them to draw a scene or a memory in the box which elicits that emotion within them.

Our 5 Senses & Coloring:

Naturally, one of the easiest ways to have students practice visualizing is for them to listen to a story or poem without any images. This way they must rely on their own senses and past experiences to picture what is happening. You can just give them some blank paper have them color what they see! Some of my favorite books for visualizing are below:

(affiliate links)

I also love to use an interactive anchor chart, like below, to really point out the words an author uses to help us create our mental images. The books I listed above all have beautiful imagery for students to choose from. We simply use sticky notes to put in the speech bubble below and I change out the book on the left for each mini-lesson!

Mind Movies:

After the previous activities are completed, students should have an understanding of the following:

– Visualizations are mental images we create based on what we are reading or listening to

– They are personal and connected to our past experiences

– We use all 5 of our senses to create these visualizations

This activity has students creating their own mind movies to gain a deeper understanding of what we are reading. I like to let students know that one way we can think about visualizing is that we are making “mind movies” in our heads as read. The characters we read about become the actors/actresses. The setting is our background. As we listen to the character’s adventures, our visualization keeps changing and adapting like in a movie. It isn’t one static image.

You can use any of the books I previously mentioned, but I also wrote 4 short stories with stopping points for students to draw what has happened so far in the story. Each story has 6 short paragraphs for students to stop and draw. I also included a sheet with 3 spaces to draw in case you choose to have them stop 3 times instead.

All of these passages, activities, and recording sheets (and much more) are included in my Comprehension Strategies that Stick unit below:


Pin to remember:

These visualizing activities and anchor charts help students create their own mental images to better comprehend the stories they are reading! Head over to the blog post to read about the activities and see some great books for visualizing.

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