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If a picture paints a thousand words, your students should be able to come up with at least a hundred or so to describe an image. For younger students, choose an image that seems to come from the middle of a story and which contains some people or animals. Older and more advanced students could be given an image of a landscape.
It is fairly easy to search for images on the Internet to view or download. (See below for some useful sites.) You could also use clip-art, cartoons, magazine images or even your own photographs. Action shots work well, as do photos of people or animals in unusual positions or with strange expressions on their faces.
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Ask the students:
- Who/what is in the picture? (Give the characters names, ages, etc.)
- Where are they?*
- What is happening now?
- What do you think has happened before this point?
- What do you think will happen next? (Try to elicit more than one outcome.)
- Will there be a happy ending?
*Have them describe the setting as best they can.
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As you go through the questions above, list all the vocabulary suggested on the board. Try not to preempt the students: this should come from their reactions and their ideas about the picture, not yours.
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Depending on your students, have them work either on their own or in pairs to write out the story. It should have a beginning, a middle and an end, as discussed during the question time. Encourage them to make it funny.
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Suggestions for Sources of images
Enchanted Learning Intended for KG to Grade 3 learners, some of the images are too "babyish" for older students. Images are mainly black-and-white. You must be a member to view the full screen printouts ($20 for a single user; $125 for a school subscription for one year).
101 Picture Prompts to Spark Super Writing! by Karen Kellaher is a paperback with photos, artwork and cartoons. Includes suggestions of how they can be used to prompt story-writing in Grades 3 - 5.
Story It has some picture prompts for Grades 3 - 6. Some have a beginning already written out for continuation.
ETTC This site provides some action photographs - fire, sports, etc. - suitable for middle or high school.
Bright Ideas provides a photograph with a written prompt. Suitable for middle school.