5th Grade - Understanding Graphics, Diagrams, Illustrations, Charts And Maps

Reading and Comprehension
Understanding graphics, diagrams, illustrations, charts and maps
Understand how text features (e.g., format, graphics, sequence, diagrams, illustrations, charts, maps) make information accessible and usable.
Be able to use visual organizers (such as diagrams, charts, or maps) and other special features in books (such as title pages, glossaries, and highlighted words) to help you understand important points and quickly find information.

Sample Problems


True or False: You have to read a chapter in your textbook from start to finish, like you would a novel. (false)


You are reading a magazine article about going on a safari. The headings within the article are: Countries to Visit, Animals to See, What To Bring. Which heading should you look under to see if South America offers safaris? (Countries to Visit)


What does the Index tell you? (A list of topics and the page number to find them in the book)


Would you expect to find text features like a table of contents, diagrams, and an index in a narrative text or expository text? (expository)


True or False: Graphs, charts, illustrations, and other visual aids in text clarify and present the information in a different way. (true)

Learning Tips



Text features – parts of the text, other than the body of the text, that organize or add meaning, such as graphics, diagrams, illustrations, charts, captions, glossary, index, table of contents, headings, etc.

Text features are there to help you understand important points and quickly find information.


Picture Sort

Make a copy of the pages from a chapter in one of your textbooks that you will be studying soon. It could be history, math, science, or whichever subject you would like. Cut out any text features that catch you eye, like key pictures, diagrams, charts, etc. Sort them into logical order and write your own captions about them. You might be surprised how much you can learn without reading the body of the text!


Question, Question, Question

Before starting an academic reading assignment, skim the pages for pictures, charts, graphs, headings, and other features to get an idea of what you will read. Write down any questions that occur to you from what you see. Once you are finished reading the body of the text, see if you can answer your questions.


Start BIG!

Reading is like exercising—you need to warm-up first! Reading is more difficult if you don’t warm-up your brain with pre-reading. Here’s an activity to help you warm up.


Bold – List any words or phrases that are in bold print.


Italics- List any words or phrases that are italicized.


Graphics- Describe or copy any graphics (such as graphs, charts, tables, etc.)


What’s Your Gateway?

Just like a gateway is where you walk through the fence to enter a garden, a gateway is where you enter text. For novels, the gateway is usually the beginning, which is designed to grab your attention right away. For nonfiction, there are many possible gateways. What jumps out at you at first? An illustration? The Table of Contents? The title? A heading? For the next three nonfiction things that you read, note what your gateway was.

Extra Help Problems


What part of the book contains a list of chapters in the book? (Table of Contents)


What part of the book contains a "blurb" to tell you what the book is about? (back cover)


What part of the book gives just the title and author (and possibly illustrator)? (title page)


Where can you look to find out how many chapters are in the book? (table of contents)


What kind of order are topics listed in the index? (alphabetical)


What is another word for pictures in a book? illustrations)


What kind of picture shows a place with labels for cities, states, and countries? (a map)


True or False: The index comes before the table of contents. (false)


True or False: The index of a book gives definitions of words. (false)


What is the label for a diagram called? (a caption)


Where can you find the chapter titles and their page numbers? (Table of Contents)


Where would you go to find a definition of a word you don’t understand? (the glossary)


True or False: Main ideas are often directly stated at or near the beginning of a text or chunk of text. (true)


True or False: Only the text is important; you can ignore the “extra” stuff. (false)


True or False: It’s easier to follow events when they are written about in the order or sequence they actually occurred. (true)


True or False: The presentation of similarities and differences between two or more people, places, or things is called cause and effect. (false)


True or False: Headings and subheadings "chunk" text for readers and help them see how sections of text relate to each other. (true)


True or False: Doing a prereading activity, such as looking through pages and noticing pictures, charts, and other features, can actually save you time overall. (true)


True or False: Bolded or italicized words in textbooks are vocabulary aids that can help you notice and understand key terms. (true)


True or False: The title and the main idea are usually not related. (false)


True or False: Making up your own questions based on what you see on the page is not a good idea. (false)


True or False: Captions and labels on diagrams are not worth reading. (false)


What are these words used to indicate: first, next, then. (order or sequence)


True or False: The main idea is usually buried in the middle somewhere. (false)


What is it called when you take the time to look over something before you read it? (prereading)


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