Visual Writing Prompts

Have you ever heard a student say: “I can’t think of anything to write about?” Start with a photo or short video can help jumpstart ideas and encourage students to write.

Here are some ideas for using photos as writing prompts:

  • After a field trip, upload selected photos to a photo sharing place like Vidigami. Share with students and have them select two photos that they want to write about. Younger students can do descriptive writing. Older students can do comparison and contrast between the photos.
  • Pull up a few photos of a recent school event on a projector. Ask questions about the photos:
    • Preschool – 1st: What is happening in the pictures? How long ago did this happen (use the calendar to count days)? What happened before? What happened after? (Do this orally as a group or at tables. Follow up with drawing or short writing.)
    • 2nd – 5th: What is this photo telling us? What would someone say that didn’t know anything about our school? What makes these good photos? How can these photos be improved? If you were going to take a photo at this event, what would you focus on?
  • Add a set of photos related to a specific curriculum (Ancient Egypt, Endangered Animals, Insects, Space, Gems & Minerals, etc.). Select a photo. Spend 30 minutes learning more about it. (To save time, have preselected websites and / or books in the classroom.) Write about what you learned. You can extend this to have two students research and write about the same thing. Then discuss and compare. 
  • Record a short (30 – 90 seconds) video of learning happening. Show the video. Ask students to write about what learning the video is demonstrating. 
  • Share photos to help with creative writing ideas. Before a creative writing assignment, share 20-30 photos of all different types of things – people, animals, fairies, buildings, kids, adults, objects, vehicles, places, etc. Have students spend 10-20 minutes looking at the photos for inspiration. (You can create a slideshow in an app like Vidigami and just run this on the screen / board at the front of your classroom.) 

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