Mental Movies

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Sometimes it’s easy to assume children know how to “read” or “listen” to a book, but often I’m reminded children need to be taught the appropriate behaviors for reading and what reading is simply all about. Those of us who were fortunate enough to be natural readers sometimes take for granted or just simply overlook “natural” reading behaviors. Throughout my teaching career, I came across many children who had difficulty recalling what they read or listened to. I even saw children who were in the upper grades struggling to remember what a story was about. There are many reasons for this, but sometimes it’s as simple as children just reading but not “soaking” up the words. One thing I do to help with this is to teach Mental “Movies”.

This is a great activity to do near the beginning of the year or whenever a child is learning to read. Reading is like watching television or a movie. I remind kids of this all the time! When watching television or a movie, the characters are acting out a story. Reading is the same thing but there’s nothing in front of us to watch. We have to “watch” what we are reading in our head! A book is a mental “movie”! Many kids do this naturally, but some have to be taught how to do this. Sometimes we have to slow them down to help them picture the story in their head. Here’s a great activity to help with this!



  1. An adult/teacher will read aloud a story, while the students are sitting at their desks. While reading, the adult/teacher does not show any illustrations.
  2. As the adult/teacher reads, students draw what is happening/being described in the story.
  3. After the adult/teacher is finished reading, students share their illustrations and sometimes write a sentence about what they drew.
  4. After everyone has shared, the teacher shares the illustrations in the story. Discuss and compare the book’s illustrations to children’s illustrations.