Visualising is one reading skill that we know that helps create good readers.
We all create mental pictures of what a text is about it helps us picture what a character is doing or to see how a finished item might look like. Explicitly teaching this skill helps a child engage with the text and increase comprehension.
According to multiple pieces of research visualising helps improve understanding, recall, develop deeper understanding and generally improve comprehension, although interestingly this skill is best developed when children are a little older. You can see some of those studies here or here.
One way that I encourage visualising is through telling stories. Story telling is a big part of the Montessori 6-12 curriculum and especially delivering the Cosmic education that underpins our philosophy.
The geographic impressionistic charts lend themselves beautifully to helping with this literacy skill while helping communicate the cosmic curriculum.
When I present them I read the story without initially showing the picture and have the child draw what they think the picture shows. This lends itself beautifully to affirming that people see the world differently and that our brains process information in different ways.
My usual lesson is like this:
1) I give a general idea about the main idea of the story such as "This story is about Earth and Sun and a fight they had."
2) I read the story two times and leave time for the child to draw what they think the picture is about. Depending on who is in front of them I may prompt by asking them to think about who, what, when, where, why or how.
3) If I have more than one child we share our pictures with each other (if the child consents),
4) I ask the child to write or dictate to me what the story was about.
5) I have the 'real' picture that goes with the chart available in the classroom for the child to look at and act as a reminder of what we have talked about.
You can see my geographic impressionistic charts and scripts and follow up activities in this bundle.
I also use these stories to help with another reading strategy: Read and Retell. You can find out more about that here.