Visual Comprehension Activities

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Visual comprehension uses pictures, graphs, visualization, advanced organizers, and other visual mediums as sense-making tools. This asset contains visual comprehension activities for students of various ages.

Visual Comprehension

Visual mediums, such as television, movies, video games, art, photography, and picture books, require students to integrate their background knowledge with the clues provided in the visual to create context. The visual comprehension activities presented below may be used with students in various grade levels.

Picture Walk

Students will predict what happens in a book based on the illustrations.

Grade level: PK - 2nd


  • picture book or wordless book


  • Before reading a book, show students the cover and have students predict what the story will be about. Discuss the reasons for the predictions.
  • Divide students into pairs. Have pairs of students look through all the pictures in the book and talk about what they see.
  • Reconvene as a whole group and provide students the opportunity to share what happens in the story based on what they learned from the pictures.

Comic Strip Captions

Students will caption comic strips to match the illustrations.

Grade level: 2nd - 6th


  • comic strips with the words marked out


  • Divide students into pairs.
  • Allow each pair to choose a comic strip.
  • Have students work together to write words for the comic strip.
  • Give students the opportunity to share their work with the class.

Historical Photos

Students will make inferences about historical photographs using visual clues.

Grade level: 5th - 8th


  • photographs from 5-8 different points in history (1 set per group)
  • computer/internet


  • Divide students into small groups. Provide each group with a set of photos.
  • Have students put the photos in the order in which they think the events occurred.
  • Ask students to justify why they chose this particular order (photo color quality, fashion, knowledge of event).
  • Have students write captions explaining what is happening in each picture.
  • Have students conduct internet research to confirm their decisions.
  • Have a class discussion about the student's use of visual cues to make inferences and ways in which background knowledge influenced their assumptions.

Propaganda Posters

Students will examine the visual effects used in propaganda posters and use the techniques to create their own advertisements.

Grade level: 7th - 12th


  • computer/internet/printer
  • examples of political ads and propaganda posters

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