Greenling / Before Reading / /

Picture Reveal (Greenling)

Revealing an image from the book to pique curiosity and encourage exploration of initial ideas.

Lesson length: 1 session

Lesson from Greenling teaching sequence


  • Visual Literacy: Picture Reveal


We use a simple hook for this sequence to pique the children’s curiosity.  An intriguing image from the book has been asked with different blocks which can be removed to reveal different parts of the illustration. This technique encourages readers to notice details that they might otherwise overlook. It also promotes self-monitoring of understanding by using the ‘think aloud’ strategy combined with dialogic teaching.

The lesson promotes exploratory talk, inviting the children to explore their first thoughts about the book. They probe each other’s thinking, but this initial encounter with the text does not require them to reach firm conclusions.

Teacher’s note: Do not introduce the book before this lesson. The first three lessons in this sequence should be taught before showing the book’s cover or distributing the text.


  • Download the picture reveal slide and display on the IWB
  • Large strips of paper and marker pens for the children to record questions at the end of the lesson.
  • An enlarged copy of the picture for display at the end of the lesson.
Teacher’s note: It is important to arrange the seating so the children can see the image, but also the faces of other children in the classroom so they can engage in dialogue rather than talk through the teacher. Prompts are offered for moving the conversation on, but the teacher talk should be responsive to the children’s thinking rather than working through the list. Make a note of significant insights or turning points in the children’s thinking.


Organise the children in a discussion circle to enable them to share ideas with each other. They should be able to see each other’s faces.

The teacher’s role in this lesson is to support and offer prompts as needed. Allow thinking time and avoid filling silences with questions unless you have come to a dead end.

Introduce the lesson by saying you have discovered a mysterious picture and would like the children’s help to help you understand what is going on.

Display the slide, remove the first block, and then discuss. Always start with the question:

  • What do you notice? This open question encourages close looking without leading.

Depending on the children’s responses, offer supplementary prompts to provoke closer looking and encourage different points of view. Avoid an overly interrogative approach. Allow silences into which the children will offer their thoughts and use the prompts sparingly.

Gradually, as you reveal different parts of the picture, ideas will be confirmed or contradicted, and new ideas and predictions will emerge.

Section 1. Reveals a bird sitting on a barbed wire fence.

Always ask- what do you notice? Before asking some supplementary prompts if the children need encouragement to look beyond the obvious.

Potential supplementary prompts:

  • Where would you find a fence like this one?
  • Have you seen a bird like that before? Does anyone know what type of bird it is?
  • Can you describe the colours that you see?
  • What type of grass – is it a nicely manicured garden lawn?

Section 2 reveals more of the fence, water, and what looks like a couple of discarded cans. 

What do you notice?

Potential supplementary prompts:

  • Does it look as though the water is meant to be here? (You wouldn’t normally expect water with a barbed wire fence running through it)
  • Why might the water have collected here?
  • What are those objects at the edge of the picture?
  • Does the fence look as though it is in good repair?

Section 3 shows a wooden structure, a signal which indicates that it is a railway (the children may not know this), a telegraph pole, the sun.

What do you notice?

Potential supplementary prompts:

  • What is the structure made from?
  • What do you think it is used for?
  • What are those poles used for? (if the children don’t know, tell them. Signals are used to warn train drivers so they can take appropriate action, like traffic lights for cars. A telegraph pole is used to support overhead power lines and telephone cables. You usually find them in rural areas or places where cables can’t be laid underground).
  • Does
  • What time of day do you think it is?

Section 4 shows a man with a hat in his hand. He appears to be looking at something that we cannot see.

What do you notice?

Potential supplementary prompts:

  • Can you tell anything about the man from the way he is dressed?
  • How old do you think he is?
  • Why might he be holding his hat rather than wearing it?
  • Where is he looking and they may notice the tunnel-like structure) (this encourages the children to think about body language)

Section 5 shows a dog at the man’s side.

What do you notice?

Potential supplementary prompts:

  • Does the dog’s body language give you further information? (If needed, draw attention to the alert tail and the head tilted to one side).
  • What connection do you think there is between the man and the dog? (Responses are likely to vary depending on the children’s experience of the reasons humans keep dogs)

Section 6 shows more water and a reflection. The reflection shows what the man and the dog are looking at. You need to look closely to notice this.

What do you notice?

Potential supplementary prompts:

  • Can you see anything other than the man and the dog in the reflection?

Sections 6 and 7 show more background so you can reveal these slides without discussing them.

Section 8 reveals what the man and the dog are looking at: a large drainage pipe or culvert with a green plant-like structure. Eagle eyes will notice a face in the middle of the plant.

  • What do you notice?
  • Have you ever seen a plant like this one before?
  • Is it surprising to find a plant growing here?
  • Why might it be growing here?
  • How does the plant’s colour stand out from the other colours in this picture?
  • What do you notice in the centre of the plant?

Final reflection

  • How did close looking and discussion help us uncover the mystery of this picture?

Discuss with your partner whether you have any unanswered questions.

Ask the children to write their unanswered questions on large strips of paper and display them with a copy of the image. Encourage the children to read each other’s questions.


Key vocabulary

reflection, signal, alert

barbed wire, telegraph pole

Subject-specific and technical vocabulary 
Academic process words 
Advanced vocabulary


Morphological investigation 
Etymological investigation 


Picture Reveal Slide

Use this slide to generate discussion and initiate questions.

Do not tell the children that this image is from the book that they will be reading.



Nikki Gamble

Nikki Gamble
Director, Just Imagine
Nikki has worked extensively in schools across the UK and internationally. She is the author of Exploring Children’s Literature (4th edit) (2019) and co-author of Guiding Readers (2016) which was awarded the UKLA Academic Book of the Year Award 2017. Nikki is KS2 reading advisor and series consultant for Oxford University Press and content creator for the Oxford School Improvement and Oxford Owl websites. Nikki is Associate Consultant at the University of London, Institute of Education and Honorary Fellow at the University of Winchester

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