This study examined whether the formation of a situation model can be encouraged by a situation-focused instruction in primary school children. To achieve this, the standard reading-for-comprehension instruction was adapted so that it would emphasise the importance of imagination in narrative text comprehension. The results showed that the situational instruction enhanced the situation model construction abilities in good comprehenders in such a way that it improved not only their memory for the situation model but also the ease with which they filled in the gaps in time and space that appeared in the narratives. In poor comprehenders, the situational instruction led to a redistribution of attentional resources allocated to textbase- and situation-level processing. It was suggested that this caused them to go beyond encoding the explicit text and instead construct a situation model from it, and that they did so without enriching the model with general-knowledge inferences as much as good comprehenders. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.