Explicitly teaching and practicing reading strategies is so important to give students tools to better comprehend what they are reading. Some of these powerful strategies include using background knowledge, making predictions, asking questions, making inferences, making connections, visualizing and creating sensory images.
WHY SHOULD I TEACH STUDENTS TO VISUALIZE AND CREATE SENSORY IMAGES?
Research shows that as students picture and imagine what they are reading, they are better able to comprehend. This goes for all types of reading from fiction, to poetry, or nonfiction.
Making strong visualizations while reading can often require students to evoke their five senses. This is why visualizing and creating sensory images are two strategies that are very much tied together.
HOW CAN I TEACH STUDENTS TO CREATE SENSORY IMAGES?
Students need a variety of ways to interact with any reading strategy. From providing clear visual references, to giving tons of ways for them to practice the strategy independently.
1. DISPLAY ANCHOR CHARTS OR VISUALS
Introduce the creating sensory images reading strategy with an anchor chart. This one contains a clear visual, a student-friendly definition of the strategy, how to use the strategy, and an example. Then, display a reading strategy word wall year-round. These cards are smaller, and have less detailed definitions and visuals for each reading strategy. These are great for students to continually reference and reinforce the strategies that we learn.
2. VISUALIZE AND CREATE SENSORY IMAGES WITH TEXT
Use books or passages that use tons of sensory language in order for students to easily practice the strategy at first. These reading passages were written specifically to target creating sensory images. They are a great resource to cut time trying to pick out texts that have clear use of sensory language for students first practicing the strategy. The fiction and nonfiction passages are differentiated for grades 3-5. They hit all 5 senses so students can really interact with the strategy in an authentic way.
3. STICKY NOTE SENSES
This activity is easily adaptable for shared reading, independent reading, or small reading groups. Each student gets sticky notes to record any sentences or phrases they come across that evoke one or more of the senses. One way to do this is to display 5 boxes or thought bubbles. Students then place sticky notes by which of the 5 senses their piece of text shows.
Another way is to create a chart where students place their example from the text with sensory language on the left side of the chart. Then, either that student, or the entire class working together, decides which of the 5 senses were evoked in that sensory details (could be more than one sense).
4. CREATING SENSORY IMAGES GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS
Graphic organizers are so useful for working on any reading strategy. They are the perfect visual support for students to independently practice applying a strategy to their own reading. I love graphic organizers that are visually appealing to students, but aren’t too busy, and provide ample writing space.
5. READING CRAFTS FOR CREATING SENSORY IMAGES
Students love reading crafts! They are the perfect way to engage hands on learners in reading. These crafts are similar to graphic organizers, but allow students to get creative as well. They are low prep, and work great for either whole class, small group, or independent reading strategy practice.
All resources from this blog post can be found in the Creating Sensory Images Bundle!
Looking for more tips on teaching Reading Strategies? Check out this blog post on Asking Questions & the QAR Strategy!