Story Writing Academy

70 Picture Prompts for Creative Writing (with Free Slides)

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Visual writing prompts help young writers generate new ideas and overcome writer’s block. We’ve put together 70 picture prompts for creative writing that you can use in your writing centers or lesson plans to get your students’ creative juices flowing.

70 PICTURE PROMPTS FOR CREATIVE WRITING TEXT OVERLAY WITH TWO VISUAL WRITING PROMPTS

Picture Writing Prompts for All Ages

Writers of all ages and experience levels can get stuck thinking about what to write. Writer’s block is not just a challenge for reluctant writers. Even professional writers have days when they feel less than inspired.

Visual prompts can result in a vast array of story ideas. A single image viewed by ten writers will result in ten completely different stories. Even if you use verbal cues to get students thinking about the picture, each student will still write a unique response to the image.

Visual creative writing prompts are fantastic for elementary school because younger students often relate more to a pictorial prompt than a written one, but don’t shy away from using these with high school and middle school students as well. Pictures make a fun alternative to your typical writing prompts and story starters and can help shake up your regular routine.

How to Use Picture Prompts for Creative Writing

There’s no limit to the ways you can use writing prompts. Here are some of our favorite ways to incorporate image prompts into your weekly lesson plans .

  • Writing Center. Print cards or writing pages with these images on them and put them in a writing center for your students to discover at their own pace.
  • Specific Skills. Use story picture prompts to help kids work on specific writing skills. For example, you could work on descriptive writing by having them describe the setting of the picture in detail. Or you could work on character development by having them make up a history for a person in a picture.
  • Warm-up Activity: You could pop the pictures into Google slides and project an image on a screen or whiteboard for the first fifteen minutes of class and have students work on a short story as soon as they enter the class.

No matter how you decide to use them—whether at home or in the classroom—photographic writing prompts are a great way to cultivate a daily writing habit and encourage kids to explore new topics.

70 Pictures for Writing Prompts

We’ve selected 70 of the most interesting pictures we could find for this exercise. When choosing photos for writing prompts, we look for high-quality photos with intriguing subject matter, but we try to go beyond that. We want to share images that suggest a story, that make the viewer ask questions and wonder why things are the way they are.

We want to feel propelled to explore questions like, What happened before the photo that led to this moment? What are we witnessing in this photo? What’s about to happen?

A photo doesn’t make much of a story starter if it doesn’t suggest that there might be a bigger picture lurking beneath the surface.

We hope you and your students love these picture prompts for creative writing as much as we do. If you love them, go ahead and scroll to the bottom to grab your own copy.

We’ve included a couple of questions with each picture that you could use to spark pre-writing conversations in your classroom, which can be helpful when working with younger students who might need a little more direction.

creative writing picture comprehension

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Whose cat is this? What is he looking at? Where is he?

a cat sits alone against a blue wall

What is the owl thinking about? Is he alone? What does he hope to eat for dinner?

an owl sits outside

Who are these frogs? What is their relationship with each other? Why are they taking photos?

two toy frogs stand in a field. One takes pictures of the other.

How did the dog get a phone? Why is he taking selfies? What is he doing with the pictures he takes?

a dog lays on a field and takes selfies

This cat doesn’t look too happy. What’s bugging him? Did he get too many phone calls or is he waiting on an important call that’s taking too long to come?

a black and white cat sits beside a phone

What do these chicks think of the dog? What does the dog think of the chicks? Do you think they can communicate with each other? If so, what would they say?

a dog lies beside two chicks

Where do these lemurs live? What are they looking at? What is something unusual that might happen to them?

a lemur lies on a branch while another hides in the background

What is this fox doing? Is he yawning and stretching or is he trying to scare someone away? What kind of mischief does he like to get up to?

a fox stretches and opens its mouth

Is this wolf alone? If not, who is with him? What is he planning to do? Does he have a family to feed or protect?

a lone wolf stands in a misty clearing

What is this child doing on the laptop? Can he actually read and type or is he just playing? If he can read and type, how did he learn that at such a young age? What other cool things can he do?

a toddler wearing a toque and glasses types on a laptop

Where is this woman? Is she lost? How did she get to this street? What interesting things might she discover as she explores this new city?

a woman stands in an empty street holding a map

Why is the dog wearing glasses? Can he see through them? What are he and the girl doing? How does he feel about it?

a woman holds a dog. Both wear glasses.

Who are these two little boys? What is their relationship with each other? What is the teddy bear’s story?

two boys sit in a bath holding a teddy bear

Who are these children? Why are they running? Is it a race or are they playing a game? Who’s going to win?

a group of children run across a field

Whose horse is this? Does the little boy own it or does he just visit it? Can the horse talk? How does the boy feel when he’s with the horse?

a boy sits on a fence and feeds a horse

What is this boy reading? Does the book have magical powers? Does the boy? Do the stories in the book become real or does something else special happen?

a boy reads a book that has some magical elements in it

Where is this man? How did he get there? What is he looking for?

a man dressed like a pirate looks through a telescope

Who is walking over the bridge? What’s on the other side? Is it worth the risk?

a top-down view of a person crossing a bridge

What are these people doing on the elephant? Where are they? Are they tourists or is the elephant their pet? What would life with an elephant be like?

two people ride an elephant through a field

Who made this map? It looks old. Has it been hidden away for a long time? Who discovered it and how? What does it lead to?

an old map

Whose typewriter is this? What important or secretive thing might they be working on? What could happen if the wrong person finds their work?

an old typewriter

Who are these three stuffed animals? Are they living? What is their story?

the backs of three stuffed animals

Whose ukulele is this? Why did they leave it here? Who might find it?

a green ukulele sticks out of the sand

Where is the owner of the bike? Where does this path lead? What if the bike’s not there when the owner returns?

a bike leans against a wooden railing

Whose shoes are these? Why did they leave them here? Why are they so dirty?

a pair of dirty shoes in the mud

Who was reading the newspaper? What was the most interesting thing they read? Where have they disappeared to?

a stack of newspapers, a white cup, and a pair of glasses

Who put this sign on the old truck? What do you think of it? How did the truck end up in its current condition and location?

a deserted old truck

Who set the table? Who are they expecting? What special occasion are they celebrating? What could go wrong?

a fancy table setting

Whose birthday cake is this? Are they having a party? Who is there? Who did they want to have there that didn’t show up?

a birthday cake

Who lives here? How do they access their home? What is their life like?

a home surrounded by water

Who built the igloo? Where is it? How does it feel to spend the night inside it?

an igloo

What is the history of this castle? Who lives in it now? Does it have any special or magical features?

a castle

Is this barn abandoned or do people live on the property? What kind of animals might live here? How do they keep themselves entertained?

a big red barn

What is it like living on a houseboat? What kind of community do you think forms among the neighbors? Imagine you live on one of these boats and think about how your daily life might change. What interesting things could you do if you lived here? What would you miss the most?

a row of houseboats

Where is this hut? Who lives here? What mystery might unfold if a stranger came knocking at their door?

a round hut

What is this lighthouse called? Who runs it? How often do they leave? What is the most memorable experience they’ve had as a lighthouse operator?

a lighthouse

How did this house get here? Does anyone live in it? What would life be like here?

a house on a rock surrounded by water

Where is this festive street? Are the people there celebrating something? Where is everybody?

a colorful European town

Who lives here? How did they build this house? Are they hiding from something? What does it look like inside?

a hobbit house with a yellow door

Whose notebook is this? Why did they leave it here? What’s written in it and how might it change the life of the person who finds it?

a notebook lying on a beach

What are these women doing? What are they supposed to be doing? Will they be in trouble if they get caught?

two women playing on a piece of wood

Who might be represented in this statue? Why is she being pulled by lions? What amazing things might she have done to deserve a statue in this prominent place?

a statue of a woman being pulled in a carriage by two lions

Where is this? Who is riding in the hot air balloons? Where are they going and why?

hot air balloons fly over a town

How old is this tree? Where is it? What are some of the most fascinating stories it could tell?

an old oak tree

Where is this carousel? Who is riding it? Can you think of a special or strange story about how it came to exist in this particular place?

a woman rides a carousel

What are these people thinking about? What’s at stake for them? What happens if one of them sneezes?

tightrope walkers walk on tightropes

Where are these penguins? What are they talking about? Which one of them is the leader?

4 penguins stand in a huddle

What is this place? Was it designed to be open like this or was it once part of someone’s home or a public building? How have people’s opinions of this place changed over time?

a room with statues in it

Who are these kids? Is this what they’re supposed to be doing? What happens when their teacher sees them?

kids play around in a dance studio

Who is supposed to ride in this boat? Where are they going? Will they make it there?

a small boat with a fancy seat

Is this plane special to someone? What did they have to do to get it/build it? Where will they fly to in it?

a yellow plane

Who decorated this train car? Which passengers will fill it up? What will they talk about?

an upscale train car with fancy seats

Whose skis are these? Why are they sticking out of the snow? How did their owner get down the mountain without them?

two skis and two poles stick out of a snowbank

Where does this gondola go? Who rides it? How does it feel to ride it?

a gondola

Who’s driving the monster truck? Why is it at the beach? What is it going to crush? Who is watching?

a monster truck does tricks on a beach

Where is the boat going? Who is on it? What is their mission?

a ship sails away from shore

What city is the helicopter flying over? Why? Is the driver looking for something specific or do they have a special delivery?

a helicopter flies over a city

What’s the little boy doing in the boat? Is he alone or is someone with him? Where is he trying to go?

a little boy holds an oar in a boat

Who is in the sub? What’s it like inside? What are they doing?

a submarine

Whose book is this? What’s it about? What’s happening to it?

a book that has water flowing out of it

How did that piece of land with the house on it break off from the rest of the world? Why? Where is it going? Is anyone in the house?

a fantasy graphic with a piece of land separating from the earth and floating away

Who is this girl? Where is she? Who is she shooting at?

a woman in the woods shoots a bow and arrow

Where does this scene take place? Is the lizard/dragon good or bad? What is its relationship with the girl?

a girl standing on the tip of a cliff pats the nose of a giant lizard

What do these books represent? What kind of world is this? What (or who) is inside the books?

a row of books designed to look like houses

What are these dinosaurs discussing? Where are they? What do they do for fun?

two dinosaurs

Whose cottage is this? Do they still live there? If not, where have they gone? If so, what do they do there?

a fairy tale cottage in the woods

What is the moth thinking about? Is it alone? What’s the biggest challenge it faces in this moment?

a moth on a flower

Who is the owl looking at? Has it read these books? What is its greatest talent?

an owl wearing beside a stack of books

Where are these trees? Why are they pink? Do they have any special powers or features?

trees in a wood covered with something pink

What do you think? Which kind of pictures do you like best for creative writing prompts ? Let us know in the comments.

Tuesday 5th of March 2024

I LOVE these! My daughter has always struggled with written story prompts and an internet search this week convinced me of the value of picture prompts for reluctant readers/writers (https://youcanjournal.com/journal-picture-prompts/ if you're interested!). I'll definitely be using these to help improve her writing skills. Thanks so much!

Tuesday 26th of December 2023

I think the idea of using picture prompts is a great idea. It initiates oral language thus building vocabulary. It allows lends itself to students working in small groups to stimulate new ideas. The prompts engage the students and gives the teacher the opportunity to focus on specific writing skills.

luke elford

Wednesday 13th of December 2023

cloey mckay

Tuesday 17th of October 2023

I tried this with myself and my 6th-grade students, and they love it. it gives room for so much creativity.

Nayyar Abbas

Tuesday 30th of May 2023

This is very good idea and it really works, viewing these one try to think one's own way that what these pictures are telling or asking? I also recommend that this idea should also be given to the students for building their creative instinct.

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150 Inspiring Picture Writing Prompts To Spark Creativity (Free Google Slides)

Use a picture to write a thousand words!

Picture writing prompts including a cartoon cat and mouse and a portrait of a Black family from the 1930s

Creative writing is a challenge for many students, often because they can’t come up with anything to write about. That’s why we love picture writing prompts. Each one sparks the imagination and helps young writers jump right into crafting a story to match. We rounded up a whole collection of intriguing images for use with kids in grades K-12 along. Plus we designed a set of free Google Slides featuring all of the prompts so you can easily share them with students.

Tip: Start by showing students the picture (or let them choose from among several) without making any comment about what they’re seeing. For kids who still struggle to get started, suggest a potential title or opening sentence, like the examples included here.

Don’t miss our free downloadable. Grab your full set of ready-to-go Picture Writing Prompts Google Slides with all of the prompts below.

Elementary Picture Writing Prompts

Middle school picture writing prompts, high school picture writing prompts, art picture writing prompts.

When kids first see these picture writing prompts, they may or may not immediately feel inspired. If they need some help, ask them questions like “What led up to this moment?” or “What’s going to happen next?”

Dog holding a rose in its mouth, with a heart-shaped cloud in the sky

When Larry fell in love, he fell hard.

Lighted sign reading ASK hanging from a building

When the new sign appeared on Main Street, everyone in town wondered exactly what it meant.

Snowy Footprints

A series of random footprints in the snow

After that crazy day, all that was left to show for it was footprints in the snow.

Dinosaur Bones

Child hiding inside a large toothy skull, reaching out a hand

“Come with me if you want to live!” Ash said, reaching out a hand.

Undersea Treasure

Goldfish swimming around a closed treasure chest sitting in the sand under the water

For years, no one saw the locked treasure chest but the local fish, who wondered what it could contain.

A Game of Fetch

A claymation dog bringing a stick to a snowman in a snowy scene

To Scout, it was a game, but to Mr. Freezy, it was much more.

Ladybug Gossip

Of pair of spotted red ladybugs perched on a leaf

The ladybug’s picnic was an excellent chance to meet up with old friends and hear all the latest gossip.

Two children peering in through a barred window

We met them when they peeked into our window, watching us as we ate lunch and watched cartoons.

King of the Jungle

Majestic lion perched on a log wearing a crown

It wasn’t the crown that made Amari the king of all he surveyed.

The Final Pitch

Small child waiting at home base for a baseball pitch that's about to arrive

It all came down to this—the final pitch in a game that was tied 2-2.

Doggie Massage

Two dogs sitting in a way that looks like one is giving the other a back massage

Every dog in the neighborhood knew that Rocky gave the best massages and was always willing to lend an ear too.

Skateboard Life

Girl in a striped shirt and red headband posing with a skateboard in front of some graffiti

When Charli got her first skateboard, she made herself a promise.

Garden of the Past

Painting of a woman in old-fashioned clothing walking in a cottage garden

The woman walked in the garden every day, never saying a word.

Sunset Friends

Two children on a jungle gym silhouetted against a setting sun

They met on the jungle gym every day at sunset, sharing everything about their days.

Pink Umbrellas

A sunny alleyway with pink umbrellas strung across it

When the pink umbrellas first appeared, Toni thought they might be magic.

Firefly Forest

Illustration of a forest at night filled with fireflies

Olivia was surprised to discover that the fireflies didn’t just glow, they also sang.

Robot Spider

A large mechanical spider standing on a stormy beach

When it first crawled ashore, the mechanical spider moved slowly.

Fallen House

House tipped on its side following a hurricane

Staring at their house, which was now on its side, the whole family was in shock.

Red Riding Hood

A young girl wearing a red hooded cape riding a brown horse in the forest

If only she’d been riding her faithful steed the day she’d met the Big Bad Wolf, things might have been very different.

Kangaroo Fall

A kangaroo sprawled on its back in the grass

“Well, this is embarrassing,” thought Bouncer, as laughter filled the air around him.

A child's hand-drawn sign for a lost cat attached to a tree

Daci’s big brother said her signs wouldn’t help them find their runaway cat, but he was wrong.

Penguin Bookshop

An illustration of a penguin wearing a top hat, standing in a booksshop

A visit to Mr. Pickerel’s Penguin Bookshop is always an adventure.

A carton of colorful eggs with faces drawn on them

Of all the eggs in the carton, Ella was the one who could always crack you up.

Children writing a fairground swing ride

That was the year Min was finally tall enough to ride the Sky Swings, but now she wasn’t so sure.

Rubber Duck Parade

A row of rubber ducks in various costumes floating down a water-filled gutter

It was truly an honor to be asked to lead the Spring Duck Parade.

Teddy Story Time

Three teddy bears posed to look as if they're reading a book

Every afternoon, the three friends gathered for story time in their favorite spot in the woods.

Underwater School

A child sitting at a desk, looking out the window at fish swimming by

Nia thought going to school underwater would be exciting, but some days she really missed going outside for recess.

A red ball with a smiley face floating on the water

The day Amos started his journey down the river, the sun was shining brightly.

Turtle Trouble

A grumpy looking sea turtle floating in clear water

“None shall pass,” growled the old sea turtle, blocking the way.

Dinosaur Race

An illustration of a young girl racing alongside a dinosaur

Pia was supposed to keep Balthazar on a leash, but once they reached the forest, she set him free and they both began to run.

Finally Seeing Eye to Eye

Cartoon illustration of a large bear with a tiny mouse standing on its nose, looking into its eyes (Picture Writing Prompts)

“So, we meet at last, face to face,” Lord Squeakerton said to his enemy, the Count of Catnip.

Monkey face with mouth and eyes open in surprise

It takes a lot to surprise a monkey, but you don’t see something like this every day.

Not Coming Out

Child hiding behind a heap of pillows on a beige couch (Picture Writing Prompts)

The day started out normally enough, but by the end, Chris knew he was in over his head.

Life on Other Planets

A space scene showing a robot and robot dog standing on the surface of an alien planet, with a domed habitat behind them

“Hurry up,” Grnklor told his robopup. “We have to get back inside before nightfall.”

Reindeer Games

Boy leading a reindeer along a snowy path into the setting sun (Picture Writing Prompts)

The wind had died down, but the setting sun seemed to take all the warmth of the day with it.

Something to Celebrate

A young boy raises his arms in triumph as a young girl points at a computer screen, smiling (Picture Writing Prompts)

Their classmates could hear their shouts of joy from all the way down the hall.

Home Sweet Mushroom

Illustration of a mushroom turned into a house, with a fence and lighted windows, under a full moon

When the fairies that lived in the garden invited her to stay with them for awhile, Maria wasn’t sure what to expect.

Loch Ness Mystery

Model of the Loch Ness Monster rising from a lake

“There it is! I told you Nessie is real!” Angus whispered to Lee.

Lonely Bear

Worn teddy bear sitting on a stone bridge

It was hard to say who was lonelier that night, Amil or his lost stuffed bear, Jasper.

Sometimes You Lose

Boy sitting on the ground with his face in his hands

When his team lost the championship, Miguel was crushed, but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to him.   

Middle school writing prompts can be a little more complex, with pictures that have a lot of potential interpretations. Encourage students to delve deeper into the story by describing how the characters feel and why they behave the way they do.

A pair of light blue Converse sneakers

Morgan was incredibly proud of those shoes, paid for entirely with money from after-school jobs.

Never Lose Hope

Splotch of green paint with the words

With his last bit of energy, Kai scrawled his message in the wet paint.

Computer keyboard with a red button reading Get Me Out of Here

The keyboard button could only be used once, and no one knew exactly what happened when you pressed it.

Piano Lessons

A young child's hands on a piano keyboard

Before she could even speak, Arya was drawn to the black and white keys.

Rolled fern front photoshopped to look as if a baby is sleeping inside

There was no doubt about it, this was was indeed a very special kind of garden.

A person wearing a dingy bunny costume standing on the end of a dock

No matter how you looked at it, it had been a very rough day to be the Easter Bunny.

Empty Chairs

Four empty beach chairs on the shore, with seagulls flying overhead.

By sunset, all four chairs were empty, and the only signs of life were the gulls swooping down from above.

Floating Treasure

Two black birds sitting on a chest floating in the water

To the birds, it was simply a convenient place to land, but Ali and I knew it was much more than that.

Shadow Question

A pair of sneakers and a person's shadow in a puddle

That was the day they discovered that just because you were invisible didn’t mean your shadow was.

Letter and Key

An old key lying on an old handwritten letter

The day she turned 12, Vivi’s aunt handed her an envelope containing the family secret.

Space Target

An illustration of a woman aiming an arrow at a target against an outer space landscape

Onyx paused, knowing that once their arrow hit the target, there was no knowing what would happen.

Mermaid Mystery

A mysterious figure that could be a mermaid, seen from below

It was a mermaid—or was it?

World on a String

A girl standing on a path, holding a suitcase and a bunch of balloons that look like planets

Her dad had promised to give her the world, but she wasn’t expecting three more planets as well.

Bee Standoff

Two bees face ot face on a purple flower

“This flower ain’t big enough for the both of us!” said Bianca.

Solitary Seat

A leather chair next to an old woodstove with a valise and old books

For as long as anyone could remember, Angus McGee spent his evenings in the same chair next to the woodstove.

Best Friends

A little girl holding a very large teddy bear, dragging it down a dirt road

When you decide to run away from home forever, you can’t possibly leave your best friend behind.

Dinosaur Demise

Illustration of dinosaurs panicking as a meteor is about to hit the earth

In retrospect, setting the time machine to randomly choose a day and time in the past might not have been such a good idea.

Magic Lamps

A collection of green

“Choose wisely,” said the old shopkeeper, “for only one of these lamps is truly magic.”

Message in a Bottle

Glass bottle on a seashore with a rolled up paper inside

The message floated at sea for more than 50 years before the day we found it on the beach.

Barrel Boat

Man wearing a life jacket and paddling half a barrel in a lake

Of all the ways to impress someone, Jonah thought to himself, this had to be one of the most ridiculous.

Dragon Guardian

A child sitting in the grass, with a dragon curled up around her

When your parents give you your own dragon guardian, your childhood is bound to be enchanted.

Octopus’s Garden

Diver encountering a large octopus with fish in the background (Middle School Picture Writing Prompts)

Wouldn’t you like to be under the sea, in an octopus’s garden in the shade?

Around the Corner

Girl peering around a corner at a boy walking a dog

After finally pressing “send,” she couldn’t resist peeking around the corner to watch him read the text.

Beam Me Up!

Small child sitting in a field watching a flying saucer beam up its tricycle (Middle School Picture Writing Prompts)

Milo’s earliest memory was of watching his beloved tricycle float into the sky above him, caught in a beam of light.

Poison Apple

A red apple held in a skeleton's hand

To join the club, all Aaron had to do was creep up and snatch the apple from the skeleton’s hand without being seen.

Giraffe Council

Three giraffes shown from the neck up against a cloudy blue sku

“It is now 3 p.m., and I call this meeting of the Mighty Council of Giraffes to order,” announced Imari.

Mystery Creature

Computer illustrated creature with blue scales, pink spikes, and large eyes

At first glance, it was hard to tell whether the little creature was friend or foe.

Woman leaping across a chasm silhouetted by an orange sky

As the sky turned orange, Keisha ran faster than ever and used the last of her energy to push off and soar over the water below.

The End of Days

A boy stands with his bicycle watching as bombs rain down on a city skyline (Picture Writing Prompts)

Despite their best efforts, they arrived too late—the battle had already begun.

Out of the Book

Woman dressed in a blue ball gown peering out of a book lit from inside, with a mouse nearby

“Happily ever after” was about to take on a whole new meaning.

Stopped Clock

Old broken alarm clock stopped at 11:17

I was sure that the time on the broken clock was the clue to solving the mystery.

Dueling Webs

Two dew-covered spiderwebs in the early morning sun

It’s never a good idea to build your web too close to another spider’s, but this time I had no choice.

Do Shoes Grow on Trees?

A bare tree covered with hanging pairs of shoes against a clear blue sky

The day I threw my own shoes into the tree was the day I really started to grow up.

Abstract Art

Closeup of splotches of colorful paint

“So,” asked their art teacher, “what do you think this painting means?”

Wandering Robots

Small cardboard robot in a field of daisies (Picture Writing Prompts)

Everything about NB-317 was made of cardboard except his heart—that was made of flesh and blood and very capable of being broken.

Dream Come True

Blue house floating in the sky above mountains, held up by blue balloons

It all started when Quinn watched her favorite movie the night before they assigned partners for the eighth grade science fair project.

Mysterious Cave

Rocky cave with strange geometric patterns in the rock

The cave was unlike anything we’d ever seen before, and what was more, it almost seemed like the rock was alive.

Storm at Sea

A pirate ship on stormy seas, with a purple sky and dramatic streaks of lightning

As the rain lashed his face and lightning tore apart the sky, Kiran had to admit he’d always thought it would be a lot more fun being a pirate.

Grasshopper Close-Up

A closeup view of a grasshopper looking directly at the camera

That’s when Javed realized it wasn’t that the grasshopper was too big—it was that he was suddenly very, very small.

UFO Parking

Sign saying UFO Parking with picture of a flying saucer

“Well, that’s convenient,” Javdok remarked to Qabow when they saw the sign.   

High school writers are ready to dig deep, exploring character development and detailed plots. These pictures offer a jumping-off point to set their imaginations free.

Cyborg Girl

An altered image showing a young girl in a black dress with a white collar, with a neck made of mechanical gears

When she was 14, Tasha’s parents finally told her the truth about what she really was.

BBQ Cookout

Barbeque grill with many different kinds of meat

“So, I’m guessing no one told you I’m a vegetarian?” asked Sadie with a smile.

Hands holding up a phone with a picture of a baby's face in front an old man's face

The latest app was like a time machine, allowing people to look back in time, but it also had a dark side.

Woman sitting on a sidewalk with her head on her knees as others walk by

She was surrounded by people but never felt more alone.

Hippo Troubles

A hippo mother and baby with its mouth open

Like all parents, hippos sometimes really need a break from their kids.

iPad Farmer

Old man in overalls using an iPad while snapping green beans

Grandpa Jack never failed to surprise us.

Marching Band Blues

Black man in a red shirt sitting on a bench, wearing a sousaphone

Kaleel sat sadly on the bench, watching the rest of the band march away in jaunty time to the music.

Never-Ending Tunnel

A white-tiled tunnel stretching far into the distance

The tunnel seemed to stretch to infinity, but Jayma knew what was at the end, and it terrified her.

Carving Out Love

A birch tree with

For years, we wondered who “WP” was, and who it was who loved them so much they carved it into a tree for all to see.

Glowing Globe

Man holding a glowing globe in a misty library

Just then, the globe began to glow, and Jaxson knew he was about to leap through space and time once again—destination unknown.

See No Evil

Three skeletons posed in the classic

It seemed like a funny joke to pose the skeletons in front of old Mrs. Petoski’s house, but then she turned up dead, and the police said it was murder.

Upside Down

Woman hanging upside down from the ceiling in a kitchen

It’s an odd feeling to wake up one morning and find yourself able to walk on the ceiling.

Face at the Fence

Child with their face pressed up against a wire fence

So much depended on which side of the fence you were on.

Bicycle Race

Three people competing in a bicycle race

Finley had trained too hard for this race to come in third—it just wasn’t good enough.

Family Travels

Vintage photo of a Black family strapping luggage to a car, with a young girl posing in front

In the picture, my grandmother’s expression is hard to interpret, but she’s told me the story many times.

Laundromat Antics

A pair of legs waving out of a dryer in a laundromat

Dani never expected to meet her first love feet first.

Black and white photo of a wedding ring lying on a sheet of notepaper saying "I'm sorry!"

Molly’s mom probably didn’t mean for her to be the one to find the note, but that’s how things turned out.

Through the Storm

Pickup truck driving through flooded streets in a storm

Javier knew it would have been smarter to stay put, but he had to make sure his mom was safe before the worst of the storm arrived.

Lifetime Friends

Two babies holding hands while being held by adults

They’d been friends for as long as they could remember—even longer, in fact.

Stray Kitten

A small kitten facing a person's legs, in black and white

“I am NOT taking you home with me,” Kai told the tiny mewling kitten firmly.

Abandoned Greenhouse

Woman inside an abandoned ramshackle greenhouse in the woods

Willow was free to leave at any time, but she couldn’t make herself go.

A fence topped by rolls of razor wire against a blue sky

Amani’s earliest memory was razor wire—miles and miles of it.

Church Graveyard

An old graveyard outside a stone church

Everyone feels differently in a graveyard, but for me, they’re very peaceful places.

Orb of Death

A hooded figure folding out a crystal ball with a spooky image in it

“Do you really want to know?” Death asked. “Because once you know, you won’t be able to forget.”

Missed Shot

Men in wheelchairs playing basketball, as one laments a missed shot

Steve was sure his shot would make it, but it bounced off the rim just as the buzzer rang to end the game.

First Contact

Alien figure with a human in a spacesuit visible in the window behind them (High School Picture Writing Prompts)

This was it—the moment that would change what it meant to be human forever.

One Life To Live

An old man wearing a cowboy hat sits in front of a house (Picture Writing Prompts)

His face said his life had been a hard one, but his eyes told a different tale.

Winter Walk

Snow-covered field with a winding trail of footprints

Snow fell, creating a blank canvas to record the story of that fateful walk.

Train to Nowhere

Sepia-toned image of an old sleeper train car in disrepair

It certainly wasn’t the most luxurious way to travel, but then again, no one really wanted to make this trip in the first place.

Modern Mary Poppins

Woman standing in the middle of a wheat field on a gray day, holding an umbrella and bag

She dropped into our lives on a gray day in midwinter, a hint of the spring that was to come.

All That Remains

A chair sits in the hallway of an abandoned building under a shaft of light from above (High School Picture Writing Prompts)

Dust motes filled the air of the abandoned hallway, replacing the voices once heard there.

A very small bunny being carried in a shirt pocket

From the day he found the little creature, Luis refused to go anywhere without him.

The Question

Figure holding flowers behind its back, with a woman turning to look in the background

Their happily ever after began quietly, with a bouquet of wildflowers.

Night Lights

A person holding an umbrella walks down an alley toward a street filled with neon lights

Misty rain both blurred and emphasized the lights that lit Suri’s way home that evening.

Forest of Fear

Black and white photo of tree trunks with arms and hands reach out from behind them (Picture Writing Prompts)

At first, Mateo thought it was a joke, but the screams that followed told him there was nothing remotely funny about it.

Closeup of a human eye, with the pupil represented as a camera lens

At the elite level, being a spy meant serious commitments.

The Yellow Door

A row of white doors with one yellow door (Picture Writing Prompts)

On their 14th birthday, every resident of Fresnia was required to stand before the Wall of Doors and make a choice.

Graffiti Palace

Abandoned warehouse with graffiti on the walls

To strangers, it seemed random, but every mark on those walls had deep meaning for us.

Fossil Fish

Fish fossil in light-colored stone

Millions of years ago, the fish gave one final flop before lying still in the deep mud.

On the Rails

Woman standing on railroad tracks holding a guitar and looking off into the distant sunset (Picture Writing Prompts)

Aliyah stood on the tracks, uncertain of where to go next.

These picture prompts are all works of art, some more well known than others. Try providing them to students without sharing the titles first, then offer up the titles if they need some help getting started.

The Dance Class (Edgar Degas)

The Dance Class by Edgar Degas

Greek Funerary Plaque (520-510 BCE)

Greek Funerary Plaque

Washington Crossing the Delaware (Emanuel Leutze)

Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze

Kyōsai’s Pictures of One Hundred Demons

Kyōsai’s Pictures of One Hundred Demons

First Steps, After Millet (Vincent van Gogh)

First Steps by Vincent Van Gogh

Lady Lilith (Dante Gabriel Rossetti)

Lady Lilith by Dante Gabriel Rosetti

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (Georges Seurat)

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat

After the Hurricane, Bahamas (Winslow Homer)

After the Hurricane, Bahamas by Winslow Homer

Drawing Lots for Prizes (Kitagawa Utamaro)

Drawing Lots for Prizes by Kitagawa Utamaro

Portions of Field Armor (Jacob Halder)

Portions of a Field Armor by Jacob Halder

Sadie Pfeifer, a Cotton Mill Spinner (Lewis Wickes Hine)

Sadie Pfeifer, a Cotton Mill Spinner by Lewis Wickes Hine

Still Life With Monkey, Fruits, and Flowers (Jean Baptiste Oudry)

Still Life With Monkey, Fruits, and Flowers by Jean Baptiste Oudry

Man Leading a Giraffe, 5th Century Byzantine

Man Leading a Giraffe, 5th Century Byzantine

The Three Skulls (Paul Cézanne)

The Three Skulls by Paul Cézanne

The Madame B Album (Marie-Blanche Hennelle Fournier)

The Madame B Album by Marie-Blanche Hennelle Fournier

Coiled Trumpet in the Form of a Snarling Feline Face (c. 100 BCE to 500 CE)

Coiled Trumpet in the Form of a Snarling Feline Face (c. 100 BCE to 500 CE)

Crazy Quilt With Animals (Florence Elizabeth Marvin)

Crazy Quilt with Animals by Florence Elizabeth Marvin

Storytime (Eugenio Zampighi)

Storytime by Eugenio Zampighi

Cubist Village (Georges Gaudion)

Cubist Village by Georges Gaudion

Zig-Zag Passenger and Freight Train (Unknown)

Zig-zag Passenger and Freight Train (Unknown)

The Power of Music (William Sidney Mount)

The Power of Music by William Sidney Mount

The Large Tree (Paul Gauguin)

The Large Tree (Paul Gaugin)

After the Bath (Mary Cassatt)

After the Bath (Mary Cassatt)

Wedding Gown (Korea, Late 1800s)

Wedding Gown (Korea, Late 1800s)

The Contemplator (Eugène Carrière)

The Contemplator (Eugène Carrière)

The Girl I Left Behind Me (Eastman Johnson)

The Girl I Left Behind Me (Eastman Johnson)

24c Curtiss Jenny Invert Single

24c Curtiss Jenny invert single

Creeping Baby Doll Patent Model

Creeping Baby Doll Patent Model

Wrecked Zeppelin (British Library)

Wrecked Zeppelin photograph from The British Library

Skeleton (Tales of Terror Frontispiece)

Skeletons Frontispiece from Tales of Terror

Get Your Free Picture Writing Prompts Google Slides

Just click the button below to fill out the form and get instant access to free downloadable Picture Writing Prompts Google Slides with all the prompts included above.

How do you use picture writing prompts in your classroom? Come share ideas and ask for advice in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .

These picture writing prompts are a unique way to excite young creative writers. Find options for all grades on a variety of subjects.

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The Fiction Collection

creative writing picture comprehension

This collection doesn’t need much of an introduction from me… These are brilliant images to inspire brilliantly creative writing.

The questions are included because ‘reading and writing float on a sea of talk’ (Britton, 1983) – the quality ideas, language and structures come from a rich discussion of the picture and the possibilities for writing.

This sheet is a good starting point for generating ideas: See think wonder , and this one is great for collecting and developing vocabulary: Vocabulary builder .

creative writing picture comprehension

Credit: Tim O’Brien

  • What can you see? What do you think? What do you wonder? Discuss and/or record your ideas here: See think wonder .
  • Who – or what – smashed the glass?
  • Was the frog there before, or did it enter the frame afterwards?
  • Why are there water droplets inside the frame?
  • Who holds the key?
  • Why is there a tag reading ‘Prince’?
  • Is the frog a prince?
  • Why is the title ‘ A  Prince’? Why not ‘ The  Prince’? What’s the difference? (Y3 grammar link)
  • Does this remind you of any stories you know? How is it similar/different?
  • Write this story – choose your perspective, style and structure. Do you want your story to feel like a fairy tale? How will you make yours stand out?

creative writing picture comprehension

Credit: Erik Johansson

  • What is happening here?
  • What was the girl doing before this? How do you know?
  • Why are the ants angry?
  • Did she fall over or get pulled over by the ants?
  • What is she saying? What is she thinking? How is she feeling?
  • Does anyone know that she’s there?
  • What do you think is going to happen?
  • Write a short narrative of this event. Try to create tension through your sentence and language choices. Choose what you want your reader to feel and check that you have achieved this by reading your writing to someone else. [Or, better still, comment it here and I’ll respond!]
  • Slow writing challenge (to support with/extend the above task): You can only write 9 sentences. You can use 2 long, 4 medium and 3 short sentences. Which order will you use them in? Experiment with the different sentence lengths and structures. Once you have written a piece that you’re proud of, explain your sentence choices and the effect you wanted them to have. Find this challenge and examples here: Angry Ants slow writing .

INVISIBLE MAN

creative writing picture comprehension

Credit: Franco Matticchio

  • What can you see?
  • Who is the Invisible Man? Why is he invisible?
  • Why is he carrying someone in his briefcase? Who is that? How did he get there? Is he trying to get out? Does the Invisible Man know that he’s there?
  • Where is he going?
  • Tell this story.

THE SUMMONER

creative writing picture comprehension

Credit: Jakub Rozalski

  • What can you see? Look closer.
  • What/who is the figure in the mist?
  • How did it get there?
  • What does it do?
  • Are there more of them?
  • Who is the person standing on the cliff top?
  • What are they doing?
  • What is their story?
  • Share the title & meaning of ‘summon’ – who is ‘The Summoner’? How do you know?
  • Where do you think this could be?

KEEPER OF THE KEYS

creative writing picture comprehension

Credit: Lena Gnedkova

  • Who is the person? Are they the ‘keeper of the keys’? Give evidence to support your opinions. Have they always been the keeper of the keys? How did they become this? Do you need to have certain qualities or qualifications to be the keeper? Is it a good thing? How does this person feel about being keeper of the keys?
  • Why is this person wearing one key around their neck?
  • Why are there keys hanging from this branch? Why is the branch connecting two trees? How?
  • Why are the keys glowing? What do the white lines on the branches and the ground represent?
  • Where is this place? Is it special? Do the keys  have  to be kept here? Why?
  • Does anyone else come here?
  • How does the ‘keeper of the keys’ get these keys? Why do the keys need to be ‘kept’?
  • What is each key for? Choose a key and tell its story.

POST-APOCALYPTIC NYC

creative writing picture comprehension

Credit: Henrik Evensen

  • Describe this setting. Try to use new and adventurous vocabulary e.g. decay, desolation, vacant, shrouded in fine dust, smog, splintered metal, deafening silence…
  • An apocalypse is a great disaster; an event involving destruction or damage on a catastrophic scale. What happened here? What caused the destruction of New York City? When did it happen?
  • Is it only NYC, or does it go further? (Locate NYC on a map, discuss the cause and how far it would spread.)
  • Who is the person? Are they riding a horse? Where did they come from? How did they survive? Is that the only survivor?

THE STORY OF THE GIANTS

creative writing picture comprehension

© Shaun Tan ‘The Arrival’ Lothian Books/Hachette Australia

  • Who are the giants?
  • Where did they come from?
  • What are they doing? Why?
  • Why are the people running away?
  • Why do the giants need lights in their helmets? Why are they wearing helmets and overalls?
  • How do you feel towards them? Why do you think this is?
  • Tell ‘The Story of The Giants’. What kind of story will it be? How will it end?

YOU’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BOAT

creative writing picture comprehension

Credit: Tyler Carter

  • Who are the people?
  • Where is this?
  • Where did the T-Rex come from?
  • What are the characters thinking?
  • What do you think will happen next?

creative writing picture comprehension

  • What do the tentacles belong to?
  • How do the man and the dog feel about it? How do you know?
  • Was the man expecting to see this behind the door?
  • Who opened the door?
  • What will happen next?
  • Tell this story. What form will your story take? (Could you wr

CAPTAIN NEMO

creative writing picture comprehension

Credit: Burda

  • Who is onboard the ship?
  • Who is Captain Nemo?
  • Where did the robot come from?
  • What is it doing?
  • Why is it in the water? Will the water damage it?
  • How would you feel if you were on the ship?

OLD MAN OF THE WOODS

creative writing picture comprehension

Credit: Matt Dixon

  • What is the ogre doing? Why?
  • Why is there a glowing light over the flower? Where is it coming from?
  • What do you think is in the pouches on the ogre’s bag strap?
  • Why were the children in the woods?
  • Does he know that they are watching him?
  • Do the children want him to know that they’re there?
  • Does this remind you of any other stories you know? Why? What’s similar and what’s different?
  • Write this story in the style of a fairytale. Who will be your main character/protagonist(s)?
  • Are ogres normally good or bad characters? Find as many examples as possible before you draw any conclusions.

MOON GARDEN

creative writing picture comprehension

Credit: Jen Betton

  • What is the boy doing?
  • Who are the other people in the background?
  • Where are they?
  • What time of day is it? How do you know?
  • Why are the people all here so late?
  • Why does one man have his arm in the air? Why does a woman have her hand to her face? What might they be saying?
  • Can you tell anything about how the boy is feeling?
  • What is he going to do with the flower?
  • Why is the picture called ‘Moon Garden’?
  • After discussing and exploring the picture, share the following two and use them to tell the story.

creative writing picture comprehension

AFTERNOON STROLL

creative writing picture comprehension

Credit: Matt Dixon

  • Who is the person?
  • Where are they going?
  • What are they carrying?
  • Do they know what’s behind them?
  • Describe the creature behind them. [Look at the eyes, the fangs, the scales…] What is it? Where did it come from? Was it there all along?
  • What is it going to do?
  • Describe the moment when the person realises that there is something behind them – try to build the atmosphere and make the reader feel tense. How do they find out? [rumbling? growling? a single rock bouncing across their path?] How will they react?
  • Tell this story. What structure will your story take? When does this scene happen?

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE THE NIGHT

creative writing picture comprehension

Credit: Borda

  • Describe the trees. Can you use a simile/metaphor/personification?
  • What animals might you find here?
  • Who do you think took this photograph?  Why are the trees all around and above them?
  • Why isn’t there any colour in this photograph?
  • How does this image make you feel?
  • What kind of story would this setting suit? Why?
  • Write a spooky story using this setting; use the title of the image as the title for your story.
  • Write a fairy tale using this setting.
  • Write from the perspective of one of the trees.

DRAGON HUNTER

creative writing picture comprehension

Credit: Ryan Lang

  • Who is this?
  • Why do they have a sword?
  • Where did the dragon come from?
  • What kind of dragon is it?
  • Why are there skeletons on the ground?
  • How is the person feeling?
  • Write your own myth or legend inspired by this picture.

creative writing picture comprehension

Credit: Jungho Le

  • Who is the old lady?
  • What is she doing?
  • What is the shadow? Why isn’t it the same silhouette as her?
  • How does she feel as she’s looking at this shadow? What might she be remembering?
  • Why is it in a book?
  • Why did Jungho Le call this picture ‘Fall’?
  • What world events has she lived through?
  • What changes has she seen?
  • What was her childhood like?
  • Is she alone now? Has she always been alone? Was she ever married? Did she have children?
  • What are her favourite memories?
  • What’s her personality like? How will you show this through the writing?
  • How might you structure your story?

LIGHTHOUSE TOWN

  • What happened here?
  • Why are the buildings under water?
  • Why are the lights still on in the buildings?
  • Who is the person on the street below? What are they doing there?
  • Why did they build a lighthouse in the middle of a town?
  • Why is the girl standing on top of the lighthouse?
  • What is the ‘break’ in the sky?
  • Tell the story of the Lighthouse Town.

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Differentiated Teaching

Using Pictures to Support Your Struggling Readers

Finding ways to help your struggling readers grasp complex comprehension tasks can be a challenge.  See if you can relate to this scenario.

You have the perfect mini-lesson planned.

You’ve picked a great text, and you are totally going to rock this lesson.

However, as soon as the students go to practice, you are stuck juggling 20 different readers all at different stages.

Some of your students may never even get to practice the skill you just taught because their independent reading text doesn’t allow it. What’s a teacher to do?

using-photos-to-build-reading-comprehension-skills

Teaching Struggling Readers Comprehension through Pictures

Comprehension is not just something students do in text. We infer, summarize, and draw causal relationships all the time. When we apply these skills to text, it adds another layer of complexity. For struggling readers, the process can be overwhelming and prohibits them from truly focusing on developing their comprehension skills.

That’s where pictures come into play.

Here are a few reasons using pictures is the perfect way to teach reading skills.

It equalizes the playing field for struggling readers.

Using Pictures to teach Comprehension Skills to struggling readers

By taking reading level out of the equation, students don’t need to decode before they apply the comprehension skill.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had the issue where my low readers aren’t able to do the skill we are working on in their leveled text.

This is a HUGE problem.

However, when I transitioned to using photos as a part of my reading lesson, even my non-readers were able to understand and practice the actual comprehension skill. Instead of being lost in the vocabulary or having their accuracy prevent them from understanding the text enough to craft a main idea sentence, they can simply focus on generating main idea sentences.

This means they can focus their mental energy on developing the skill and using the strategies you’ve introduced.

An added benefit is this can help prevent them from falling more behind because they’ll have a better understanding of the comprehension skill when they reach the reading level that allows them to apply it.

Pictures encourage participation.

We’ve all had those struggling readers who try to hide out in the corner during reading and avoid eye contact.

No matter how much we scaffold or praise, they avoid participating in reading because they don’t feel confident.

Using pictures lets these students build their confidence because they don’t have to actually read to be participating in building their reading skills.

Pictures break down language barriers.

Pictures are often one of the key ways to teach vocabulary for students who are learning English. As their skills develop, photos can be the perfect way to help build comprehension.

Instead of getting lost in the phonics or translation aspects of reading in a second language, students can focus on building their comprehension skills.

using photos to improve reading comprehension skills

Photos make reading comprehension practice FUN!

So many low readers have lost their interest in reading. They know it is hard, and they don’t want to do it. In fact, some of them have even perfected the art of reading avoidance.

This, unfortunately, spirals because (as we all know) students who read become better readers and those who don’t…well, they don’t.

Using pictures makes the process of learning those important comprehension skills fun. Kids forget (or don’t realize…I’ll take either one!) that they are working on reading when they using photos.

How I created a routine for picture comprehension

Routine is huge for my students. It saves a ton of time when I can create a routine that students can complete independently without a ton of directions. I’ve used pictures both as part of my morning routine and in literacy centers for students who need differentiated practice over the years.

Here’s how I structure the week:

Monday: Observe the photo

Students observe the photo and document what they notice on Monday. The goal of the work is to attend to detail, which can often be difficult for struggling readers.

It also sets them up to do higher-level skills the other days because it gives them a chance to build the vocabulary needed to interpret the photograph.

Depending on the day, this was either discussed in partners or small group.

Tuesday-Thursday: Daily Comprehension Skill Focus

The middle part of the week broke down the important higher-level comprehension skills – inferring, questioning, and the main idea. Each day students focused their work around a different skill, but the photograph stayed the same all week.

This allowed them to dig deeper across time. It also allowed us to discuss the photo more in-depth across the week.

how to teach comprehension with photos

Friday: Quick Write & Edit

On Friday, students would complete a writing prompt that related to the image.

I always tried to keep these prompts interesting and something that even my struggling writers could engage with. They would work on this quick write while I was able to pull students for our weekly required assessments.

The genre changed regularly. Some weeks the students would be asked to write a short personal narrative related to the image. Other weeks they would write a descriptive or expository piece. Sometimes they would even be asked to write an opinion or creative writing piece.

how to build comprehension with photos

This helped keep students practicing different genres, and it kept things from getting stale for the kids.

After writing, they could work through a short editing checklist. This allowed them to practice both composition and editing skills.

The revising and editing checklists at the bottom were also helpful because we could keep these pieces and use them to create a final draft later if the student was really engaged in the task.

How it worked…

This was the best part. After several weeks, I discovered that even my struggling readers had a better understanding of these skills and HOW to apply them. They were more equipped with strategies that allowed them to practice the skills through listening comprehension during read-aloud. I also saw that they were more easily able to apply the skills to text.

There was also less stress because my struggling readers were not trying to balance learning how to read with challenging comprehension skills. It provided me opportunities to work more deeply on decoding skills during their small group reading time without fear that the students weren’t being exposed to grade level comprehension skills. As a result, their accuracy and fluency developed and they were able to practice comprehension more readily in their text.

Want to try out my Picture It! Language Arts Warm-Ups?

I’d love to send you 2-weeks worth of picture comprehension warm-ups. They are perfect for your morning work or as a daily language arts center. You could even use them with a small group for tutoring or in addition to reading interventions to address specific skill gaps.

free picture of the day comprehension practice

Here’s what you’ll get:

  • 2 double-sided printable pages designed for students
  • Larger color copies of the images – perfect for projecting
  • Teacher tips & directions for implementation

All you need to do is enter your information below to get them delivered right to your inbox. 

Looking for more support struggling readers or writers? Check out these related articles:

  • How to build writing stamina with struggling writers
  • 5 Benefits of using novel studies in your classroom 
  • Totally free websites for digital reading in the classroom

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Creative Writing Through Wordless Picture Books

Creative Writing Through Wordless Picture Books

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  • Instructional Plan
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Wordless picture books offer a wonderful foundation for creative writing. Often, students struggle with ideas and topics for writing. This genre of books offers a platform for students to develop their writing skills. In this lesson, students are exposed to wordless picture books and begin developing story lines orally and in writing. Educators can easily incorporate various instructional strategies into students' writing, such as use of dialogue, setting development, character descriptions, sequencing of events, and story development. An online, interactive story map is used to assist students in developing story lines.

Featured Resources

Interactive Story Map : Students will love this interactive resource that helps them generate story ideas.

From Theory to Practice

  • David Wiesner (author of Tuesday ) identifies one of the most valuable characteristics of wordless books-the endless possibilities for creative interpretations.  
  • Wordless books enhance creativity, vocabulary, and language development for readers of all ages, at all stages of cognitive development, and in all content areas.  
  • The creativity stimulated by wordless books encourages older students to look more closely at story details, to carefully consider all story elements, and to more clearly understand how text is organized so that a story develops.
  • Through discussion and critical examination of the details of the illustrations, students wrote sentences that effectively complemented the pictures.  

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

Materials and Technology

  • You Can't Take a Balloon Into the National Gallery by Weitzmann and Glasser (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2000)
  • Sticky notes (3 X 5 size, lined is preferred)
  • Student response journals
  • Various wordless picture books: Wordless Picture Books (Reading Rockets) and Wordless Picture Books (Book Riot)

Peer Critique Rubric

Preparation

Student objectives.

Students will

  • Explore various wordless picture books  
  • Develop oral story lines for wordless picture books  
  • Develop written story lines for wordless picture books  
  • Critique story lines developed by peers  

Opening activity

Read a wordless picture book to the class by developing a story line to go along with the pictures. After reading, ask students if they would have created a different story for the book. Reread the same book asking students to volunteer to develop a story line for each page. Explain how everyone can have a different interpretation of a book.

Paired reading

Group students in pairs to select and read a wordless picture book together. Students should have the opportunity to create their own story line for the book and tell the story to their partner.

Small-group activity

Gather three to four students in a small group to develop a story for the book You Can't Take a Balloon Into the National Gallery. Explain that the story line should be created as a group. Each group should read through the book first, discuss ideas, and then develop a story line to go along with the illustrations. The text for each page should be written on sticky notes and placed on the coordinating pages of the book.

Whole-class discussion

Invite each group to read aloud their original story for the book You Can't Take a Balloon Into the National Gallery. Discuss the similarities and differences between each group's interpretation of the story. During the discussion, help students identify the setting, main character, conflict, and resolution, and model how to use the interactive Story Map tool.

Response journal activity

Have students complete a journal entry in response to the whole-class discussion about story lines for You Can't Take a Balloon Into the National Gallery. Ask them the following questions:

  • Which story line was your favorite?  
  • Why was it your favorite?  
  • What made it enjoyable?

Independent work

Students select a wordless picture book from the classroom library to read and develop an original story line. Using the interactive Story Map tool, students begin to write their story line by identifying the setting, main character, conflict, and resolution. Once students complete the online Story Map, each map should be printed and used as a guide to further develop their story. Stories should incorporate elements of writing that include, but are not limited to:

  • Use of dialogue  
  • Setting development  
  • Character descriptions  
  • Sequencing of events  
  • Story development

Pair-and-share conference

Students share their story lines with another student for critique. Comments and suggestions are provided for further story development. Students use a Peer Critique Rubric to complete this task.

Independent revision

Any revisions that are necessary are made based on the pair-and-share conference.

Whole-class sharing

Students read their original story to the class.

How does the museum on the website differ from the museum presented in the book?   What does the author do well in portraying the museum?   What is the most realistic illustration or part in the book?
  • Have students create Character Trading Cards for the characters in the stories they have written. These can have multiple applications - for example, students can exchange them and write their own original stories incorporating each other's characters or they can use them as a tool to help them revise their stories.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Teacher observation of student participation in whole-class and small-group activities  
  • Journal response entries  
  • Calendar Activities
  • Student Interactives

The Story Map interactive is designed to assist students in prewriting and postreading activities by focusing on the key elements of character, setting, conflict, and resolution.

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Picture Comprehension Challenges

Do your children find it difficult to understand inference? Use these interesting challenges to develop your children’s comprehension skills by encouraging them to look closely at the picture, read the text and then answer the questions.

If you use these resources with your students, let us know in the comments below. We always love hearing your feedback!

This resource comes from our Picture Comprehension Pack. Find out more at Teaching Packs .

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11+ creative writing guide with 50 example topics and prompts

by Hayley | Nov 17, 2022 | Exams , Writing | 0 comments

The 11+ exam is a school entrance exam taken in the academic year that a child in the UK turns eleven.

These exams are highly competitive, with multiple students battling for each school place awarded.

The 11 plus exam isn’t ‘one thing’, it varies in its structure and composition across the country. A creative writing task is included in nearly all of the 11 plus exams, and parents are often confused about what’s being tested.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the plot of your child’s writing task is important. It is not.

The real aim of the 11+ creative writing task is to showcase your child’s writing skills and techniques.

And that’s why preparation is so important.

This guide begins by answering all the FAQs that parents have about the 11+ creative writing task.

At the end of the article I give my best tips & strategies for preparing your child for the 11+ creative writing task , along with 50 fiction and non-fiction creative writing prompts from past papers you can use to help your child prepare. You’ll also want to check out my 11+ reading list , because great readers turn into great writers.

Do all 11+ exams include a writing task?

Not every 11+ exam includes a short story component, but many do. Usually 3 to 5 different prompts are given for the child to choose between and they are not always ‘creative’ (fiction) pieces. One or more non-fiction options might be given for children who prefer writing non-fiction to fiction.

Timings and marking vary from test to test. For example, the Kent 11+ Test gives students 10 minutes for planning followed by 30 minutes for writing. The Medway 11+ Test gives 60 minutes for writing with ‘space allowed’ on the answer booklet for planning.

Tasks vary too. In the Kent Test a handful of stimuli are given, whereas 11+ students in Essex are asked to produce two individually set paragraphs. The Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex (CCSE) includes 2 creative writing paragraphs inside a 60-minute English exam.

Throughout the UK each 11+ exam has a different set of timings and papers based around the same themes. Before launching into any exam preparation it is essential to know the content and timing of your child’s particular writing task.

However varied and different these writing tasks might seem, there is one key element that binds them.

The mark scheme.

Although we can lean on previous examples to assess how likely a short story or a non-fiction tasks will be set, it would be naïve to rely completely on the content of past papers. Contemporary 11+ exams are designed to be ‘tutor-proof’ – meaning that the exam boards like to be unpredictable.

In my online writing club for kids , we teach a different task each week (following a spiral learning structure based on 10 set tasks). One task per week is perfected as the student moves through the programme of content, and one-to-one expert feedback ensures progression. This equips our writing club members to ‘write effectively for a range of purposes’ as stated in the English schools’ teacher assessment framework.

This approach ensures that students approaching a highly competitive entrance exam will be confident of the mark scheme (and able to meet its demands) for any task set.

Will my child have a choice of prompts to write from or do they have to respond to a single prompt, without a choice?

This varies. In the Kent Test there are usually 5 options given. The purpose is to gather a writing sample from each child in case of a headteacher appeal. A range of options should allow every child to showcase what they can do.

In Essex, two prescriptive paragraphs are set as part of an hour-long English paper that includes comprehension and vocabulary work. In Essex, there is no option to choose the subject matter.

The Medway Test just offers a single prompt for a whole hour of writing. Sometimes it is a creative piece. Recently it was a marketing leaflet.

The framework for teaching writing in English schools demands that in order to ‘exceed expectations’ or better, achieve ‘greater depth’, students need to be confident writing for a multitude of different purposes.

In what circumstances is a child’s creative writing task assessed?

In Essex (east of the UK) the two prescriptive writing tasks are found inside the English exam paper. They are integral to the exam and are assessed as part of this.

In Medway (east Kent in the South East) the writing task is marked and given a raw score. This is then adjusted for age and double counted. Thus, the paper is crucial to a pass.

In the west of the county of Kent there is a different system. The Kent Test has a writing task that is only marked in appeal cases. If a child dips below the passmark their school is allowed to put together a ‘headteacher’s appeal’. At this point – before the score is communicated to the parent (and probably under cover of darkness) the writing sample is pulled out of a drawer and assessed.

I’ve been running 11+ tutor clubs for years. Usually about 1% of my students passed at headteacher’s appeal.

Since starting the writing club, however, the number of students passing at appeal has gone up considerably. In recent years it’s been more like 5% of students passing on the strength of their writing sample.

What are the examiners looking for when they’re marking a student’s creative writing?

In England, the government has set out a framework for marking creative writing. There are specific ‘pupil can’ statements to assess whether a student is ‘working towards the expected standard,’ ‘working at the expected standard’ or ‘working at greater depth’.

Members of the headteacher panel assessing the writing task are given a considerable number of samples to assess at one time. These expert teachers have a clear understanding of the framework for marking, but will not be considering or discussing every detail of the writing sample as you might expect.

Schools are provided with a report after the samples have been assessed. This is very brief indeed. Often it will simply say ‘lack of precise vocabulary’ or ‘confused paragraphing.’

So there is no mark scheme as such. They won’t be totting up your child’s score to see if they have reached a given target. They are on the panel because of their experience, and they have a short time to make an instant judgement.

Does handwriting matter?

Handwriting is assessed in primary schools. Thus it is an element of the assessment framework the panel uses as a basis for their decision.

If the exam is very soon, then don’t worry if your child is not producing immaculate, cursive handwriting. The focus should simply be on making it well-formed and legible. Every element of the assessment framework does not need to be met and legible writing will allow the panel to read the content with ease.

Improve presentation quickly by offering a smooth rollerball pen instead of a pencil. Focus on fixing individual letters and praising your child for any hint of effort. The two samples below are from the same boy a few months apart. Small changes have transformed the look and feel:

11+ handwriting sample from a student before handwriting tutoring

Sample 1: First piece of work when joining the writing club

Cursive handwriting sample of a boy preparing for the 11+ exam after handwriting tutoring.

Sample 2: This is the same boy’s improved presentation and content

How long should the short story be.

First, it is not a short story as such—it is a writing sample. Your child needs to showcase their skills but there are no extra marks for finishing (or marks deducted for a half-finished piece).

For a half hour task, you should prepare your child to produce up to 4 paragraphs of beautifully crafted work. Correct spelling and proper English grammar is just the beginning. Each paragraph should have a different purpose to showcase the breadth and depth of their ability. A longer – 60 minute – task might have 5 paragraphs but rushing is to be discouraged. Considered and interesting paragraphs are so valuable, a shorter piece would be scored more highly than a rushed and dull longer piece.

I speak from experience. A while ago now I was a marker for Key Stage 2 English SATs Papers (taken in Year 6 at 11 years old). Hundreds of scripts were deposited on my doorstep each morning by DHL. There was so much work for me to get through that I came to dread long, rambling creative pieces. Some children can write pages and pages of repetitive nothingness. Ever since then, I have looked for crafted quality and am wary of children judging their own success by the number of lines competed.

Take a look at the piece of writing below. It’s an excellent example of a well-crafted piece.

Each paragraph is short, but the writer is skilful.

He used rich and precisely chosen vocabulary, he’s broken the text into natural paragraphs, and in the second paragraph he is beginning to vary his sentence openings. There is a sense of control to the sentences – the sentence structure varies with shorter and longer examples to manage tension. It is exciting to read, with a clear awareness of his audience. Punctuation is accurate and appropriate.

Example of a high-scoring writing sample for the UK 11+ exam—notice the varied sentence structures, excellent use of figurative language, and clear paragraphing technique.

11+ creative writing example story

How important is it to revise for a creative writing task.

It is important.

Every student should go into their 11+ writing task with a clear paragraph plan secured. As each paragraph has a separate purpose – to showcase a specific skill – the plan should reflect this. Built into the plan is a means of flexing it, to alter the order of the paragraphs if the task demands it. There’s no point having a Beginning – Middle – End approach, as there’s nothing useful there to guide the student to the mark scheme.

Beyond this, my own students have created 3 – 5 stories that fit the same tight plan. However, the setting, mood and action are all completely different. This way a bank of rich vocabulary has already been explored and a technique or two of their own that fits the piece beautifully. These can be drawn upon on the day to boost confidence and give a greater sense of depth and consideration to their timed sample.

Preparation, rather than revision in its classic form, is the best approach. Over time, even weeks or months before the exam itself, contrasting stories are written, improved upon, typed up and then tweaked further as better ideas come to mind. Each of these meets the demands of the mark scheme (paragraphing, varied sentence openings, rich vocabulary choices, considered imagery, punctuation to enhance meaning, development of mood etc).

To ensure your child can write confidently at and above the level expected of them, drop them into my weekly weekly online writing club for the 11+ age group . The club marking will transform their writing, and quickly.

What is the relationship between the English paper and the creative writing task?

Writing is usually marked separately from any comprehension or grammar exercises in your child’s particular 11+ exam. Each exam board (by area/school) adapts the arrangement to suit their needs. Some have a separate writing test, others build it in as an element of their English paper (usually alongside a comprehension, punctuation and spelling exercise).

Although there is no creative writing task in the ISEB Common Pre-test, those who are not offered an immediate place at their chosen English public school are often invited back to complete a writing task at a later date. Our ISEB Common Pre-test students join the writing club in the months before the exam, first to tidy up the detail and second to extend the content.

What if my child has a specific learning difficulty (dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, ASD)?

Most exam boards pride themselves on their inclusivity. They will expect you to have a formal report from a qualified professional at the point of registration for the test. This needs to be in place and the recommendations will be considered by a panel. If your child needs extra arrangements on the day they may be offered (it isn’t always the case). More importantly, if they drop below a pass on one or more papers you will have a strong case for appeal.

Children with a specific learning difficulty often struggle with low confidence in their work and low self-esteem. The preparations set out above, and a kids writing club membership will allow them to go into the exam feeling positive and empowered. If they don’t achieve a pass at first, the writing sample will add weight to their appeal.

Tips and strategies for writing a high-scoring creative writing paper

  • Read widely for pleasure. Read aloud to your child if they are reluctant.
  • Create a strong paragraph plan where each paragraph has a distinct purpose.
  • Using the list of example questions below, discuss how each could be written in the form of your paragraph plan.
  • Write 3-5 stories with contrasting settings and action – each one must follow your paragraph plan. Try to include examples of literary devices and figurative language (metaphor, simile) but avoid clichés.
  • Tidy up your presentation. Write with a good rollerball pen on A4 lined paper with a printed margin. Cross out with a single horizontal line and banish doodling or scribbles.
  • Join the writing club for a 20-minute Zoom task per week with no finishing off or homework. An expert English teacher will mark the work personally on video every Friday and your child’s writing will be quickly transformed.

Pressed for time? Here’s a paragraph plan to follow.

At Griffin Teaching we have an online writing club for students preparing for the 11 plus creative writing task . We’ve seen first-hand what a difference just one or two months of weekly practice can make.

That said, we know that a lot of people reading this page are up against a hard deadline with an 11+ exam date fast approaching.

If that’s you (or your child), what you need is a paragraph plan.

Here’s one tried-and-true paragraph plan that we teach in our clubs. Use this as you work your way through some of the example prompts below.

11+ creative writing paragraph plan

Paragraph 1—description.

Imagine standing in the location and describe what is above the main character, what is below their feet, what is to their left and right, and what is in the distance. Try to integrate frontend adverbials into this paragraph (frontend adverbials are words or phrases used at the beginning of a sentence to describe what follows—e.g. When the fog lifted, he saw… )

Paragraph 2—Conversation

Create two characters who have different roles (e.g. site manager and student, dog walker and lost man) and write a short dialogue between them. Use what we call the “sandwich layout,” where the first person says something and you describe what they are doing while they are saying it. Add in further descriptions (perhaps of the person’s clothing or expression) before starting a new line where the second character gives a simple answer and you provide details about what the second character is doing as they speak.

Paragraph 3—Change the mood

Write three to four sentences that change the mood of the writing sample from light to gloomy or foreboding. You could write about a change in the weather or a change in the lighting of the scene. Another approach is to mention how a character reacts to the change in mood, for example by pulling their coat collar up to their ears.

Paragraph 4—Shock your reader

A classic approach is to have your character die unexpectedly in the final sentence. Or maybe the ceiling falls?

11+ creative writing questions from real papers—fictional prompts

  • The day the storm came
  • The day the weather changed
  • The snowstorm
  • The rainy day
  • A sunny day out
  • A foggy (or misty) day
  • A day trip to remember
  • The first day
  • The day everything changed
  • The mountain
  • The hillside
  • The old house
  • The balloon
  • The old man
  • The accident
  • The unfamiliar sound
  • A weekend away
  • Moving house
  • A family celebration
  • An event you remember from when you were young
  • An animal attack
  • The school playground at night
  • The lift pinged and the door opened. I could not believe what was inside…
  • “Run!” he shouted as he thundered across the sand…
  • It was getting late as I dug in my pocket for the key to the door. “Hurry up!” she shouted from inside.
  • I know our back garden very well, but I was surprised how different it looked at midnight…
  • The red button on the wall has a sign on it saying, ‘DO NOT TOUCH.’ My little sister leant forward and hit it hard with her hand. What happened next?
  • Digging down into the soft earth, the spade hit something metal…
  • Write a story which features the stopping of time.
  • Write a story which features an unusual method of transport.
  • The cry in the woods
  • Write a story which features an escape

11+ creative writing questions from real papers—non-fiction prompts

  • Write a thank you letter for a present you didn’t want.
  • You are about to interview someone for a job. Write a list of questions you would like to ask the applicant.
  • Write a letter to complain about the uniform at your school.
  • Write a leaflet to advertise your home town.
  • Write a thank you letter for a holiday you didn’t enjoy.
  • Write a letter of complaint to the vet after an unfortunate incident in the waiting room.
  • Write a set of instructions explaining how to make toast.
  • Describe the room you are in.
  • Describe a person who is important to you.
  • Describe your pet or an animal you know well.

creative writing picture comprehension

Free Printable Picture Comprehension Worksheets for 1st Class

Discover a wide range of free printable Reading & Writing Picture Comprehension worksheets, perfect for Class 1 students. Enhance your students' learning experience and help them develop essential skills with these fun and interactive resources from Quizizz.

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Picture Comprehension worksheets for Class 1 are an essential tool for teachers looking to enhance their students' reading and writing skills. These worksheets provide a fun and engaging way for young learners to practice their early literacy skills, while also developing their ability to understand and interpret images. By incorporating a variety of images and accompanying questions, these worksheets encourage students to think critically about the content and context of the images, helping to build a strong foundation in reading comprehension. Furthermore, these worksheets can be easily integrated into any Class 1 curriculum, providing teachers with a valuable resource to support their students' growth in reading and writing.

Quizizz offers a wide range of resources, including Picture Comprehension worksheets for Class 1, that can help teachers create engaging and interactive learning experiences for their students. In addition to these worksheets, Quizizz also provides a variety of other tools and resources, such as quizzes, flashcards, and games, which can be used to reinforce and assess students' understanding of key concepts in reading and writing. By incorporating Quizizz into their lesson plans, teachers can create a more dynamic and engaging learning environment that supports the development of early literacy skills. Furthermore, Quizizz's user-friendly platform makes it easy for teachers to customize and share their resources with colleagues, ensuring that all students have access to high-quality, grade-appropriate materials that support their growth in reading and writing.

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    Kids Think Wide - Picture Prompts For Creative Writing. Inspire student writing. Picture Prompts. Dive into hundreds of images, each paired with a writing prompt and questions to spark ideas. There's also the option to generate, edit and save custom prompts tailored to the needs of your students. Explore Prompts arrow_forward Explore Solutions →.

  10. Images to inspire writing in your classroom

    25 min read. Images are a powerful tool for inspiring writing in the classroom. When it comes to igniting the flames of creativity, visual stimuli can work wonders. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and this holds particularly true in the realm of creative writing. Incorporating images into the writing process can unlock ...

  11. Picture Prompts

    Watch this short introduction video on using Picture Prompts to strengthen literacy skills and give students a voice. By The Learning Network.

  12. Pobble

    A calendar of 365 incredible images, e ach with ready-made writing activities. Easy to edit and share writing prompts, a new one free, every day! ... Learn valuable insights from experienced educators and discover how Pobble can improve writing outcomes across your school with our free CPD for teachers. Book now. Visit the Blog

  13. 70 Picture Prompts for Creative Writing (with Free Slides)

    Vision creative writing prompts are fantastic for elementary train since younger collegiate often relatives more to a pictorial prompt than a written one, and don't shy away from using diesen with high school and middle school students as well. Pictures make a fun alternative to your typical writing query and story entrees and can help shake ...

  14. The Images Shed

    Let these images spark your memory of a joyous moment you spent with family, friends, or by yourself. You may choose one image or link a few together to tell/show a deeper-more detailed memoir. With thanks to Stephen Yost - Neil Armstrong Middle School - Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, USA for the pictures and ideas.

  15. How I built student comprehension skills with photos

    Pictures break down language barriers. Pictures are often one of the key ways to teach vocabulary for students who are learning English. As their skills develop, photos can be the perfect way to help build comprehension. Instead of getting lost in the phonics or translation aspects of reading in a second language, students can focus on building ...

  16. Picture Understanding! Building Comprehension in the Primary Grades

    Writing Poetry; Learning objectives. collaboration (121) Comprehension (134) ... Picture Understanding! Building Comprehension in the Primary Grades With Picture Books Grades. 1 - 3. Lesson Plan Type ... Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities. 12. Students use ...

  17. Picture and Story Writing Activity

    These story writing sheets are a great way to get your students thinking creatively! Each sheet provides a picture with sequential word prompts beneath to help them build their story. If you've enjoyed using the Picture and Story Writing Activity, there's a whole bunch of fun in our 1st Grade Writing Worksheets collection!

  18. Picture writing prompts

    K5 Learning offers free worksheets, flashcards and inexpensive workbooks for kids in kindergarten to grade 5. Become a member to access additional content and skip ads. Students are prompted to write short texts by various pictures; kids should be encouraged to use their imagination to create a narrative around the picture.

  19. Creative Writing Through Wordless Picture Books

    Overview. Wordless picture books offer a wonderful foundation for creative writing. Often, students struggle with ideas and topics for writing. This genre of books offers a platform for students to develop their writing skills. In this lesson, students are exposed to wordless picture books and begin developing story lines orally and in writing.

  20. Picture Comprehension Challenges

    Use these interesting challenges to develop your children's comprehension skills by encouraging them to look closely at the picture, read the text and then answer the questions. If you use these resources with your students, let us know in the comments below. We always love hearing your feedback! This resource comes from our Picture ...

  21. 11+ creative writing guide with 50 example topics and prompts

    11+ creative writing questions from real papers—non-fiction prompts. Write a thank you letter for a present you didn't want. You are about to interview someone for a job. Write a list of questions you would like to ask the applicant. Write a letter to complain about the uniform at your school.

  22. Free Printable Picture Comprehension Worksheets for 1st Class

    Discover a wide range of free printable Reading & Writing Picture Comprehension worksheets, perfect for Class 1 students. Enhance your students' learning experience and help them develop essential skills with these fun and interactive resources from Quizizz. class 1 Picture Comprehension. comprehension. 20 Q. 1st - 3rd.

  23. THE LITERACY SHED

    Welcome to The Literacy Shed - the home of visual literacy. Here at Literacy Shed we aim to provide teachers with high quality films and animations that can be used in the primary classroom to enhance the teaching of reading and writing. All of the films on the site we think are suitable for primary aged children although some films may not be ...