Friday, September 3, 2010

Making Mental Images

One of the hardest transitions for kids in reading is going from books with lots of pictures to words with mostly text. If your kids are hesitant to get into chapter books, that may be a big reason why.

We need to teach them how to make those pictures in their minds by using the words.

It can start out really simply. Just create a sentence or two: The big black dog ran down the street, dragging its master behind him on the leash.

Then have them draw what they see. Encourage them to create a background...are there trees? Houses? Who is the master? Man, woman, boy, girl? What color hair/clothes, etc.

Challenge them to add detail to flesh it out.

As they get good at it, give them more sentences with more detail. After that, move to using a few sentences from a book. Then a paragraph, then a few paragraphs.

This may seem labor intensive, but we need to grow those muscles in their brains. When we do, it will start to move them to make pictures in their minds automatically.

Envisioning, as we call it, goes through different stages : Still pictures, then more like a movie (movement), to where they feel like they are actually IN the book, experiencing it with all senses and feeling.

We worked on that today.

We also said that it was important to have that just right book in order to do it. One of my kids astutely pointed out that when he is reading a more challenging book (just right, but on the harder side), sometimes it starts as still pictures, but as he reads, it moves into movies and experience...

He could teach for me on that statement.

So check to see if your kids are making mental pictures...if they aren't, it may be the roadblock you need to get out of the way for them to start enjoying and understanding what they are reading!

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