Can You Imagine: Improving Your Students’ Visualization Skills

Little girl holding toys

It’s always a struggle for students to start filling out a blank writing worksheet. Sometimes, it’s a creative rut. Other times, it’s a problem of having too many concepts. But one of the most overlooked reasons behind young writers’ struggles is the lack of visualization. Kids indeed have a wild imagination, but they won’t be able to use it fully without prompting or probing. That’s why you should teach them the art of visualization, switching on those pictures and movies in their heads. Here are some ways to promote visualization in your writing class:

Read and discuss.

The best way to jump-start visualization is reading. When children can dive deep into stories, they flex their imagination. Over time, they can train their minds to get into the habit. So make a routine of reading different materials. You can introduce a book or let them bring their own. Discuss the contents together. Divide the class into small groups or assign partners to give each child a chance to share their insights. During discussions, your goal is to have students describe what plays in their heads when they read their favorite line or recount a memorable scene. You can have them start with the phrase, “I picture a _______.” For instance, to describe the climax of the story, you can say “I picture a violent storm as the prince leaves his castle to save the princess.” The principle is to have the students encapsulate the image in a sentence and make the scene more vivid to them.

Describe an object or a person.

Ask your students to bring specific objects, like a special toy or a photo of their favorite cartoon character. Let them look at it for a few minutes and then tell them to put the stuff away. Distribute writing sheets and ask them to write as many details as they can remember about the object. By doing so, you can strengthen their visualization skills. When you’re writing about a particular character or scenario, sometimes it takes extra effort to pinpoint details. With this exercise, your students will get the hang of capturing and remembering mental images. For variety, you can also introduce a person, like a colleague who’s in a princess or witch costume. You can make these description drafts part of your book project ideas.

Let the children daydream.

Two little boys coloring

Daydreaming is often discouraged in the classroom since it hampers learning. But daydreaming can be useful, especially for the imagination. It frees and relaxes the mind. It also makes the brain go into different “rabbit holes” that are worth exploring later. So take a short break and let your class daydream. Allow them to stare out the window. Then, when the time is up, ask them to retrace their thoughts. Ultimately, this nurtures their imagination and simplifies the task of writing their thoughts on paper.

Overall, visualization is one of the critical skills that young writers need to master. Remember these tactics as you go into your next writing session.

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