We have all heard the adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” This could not be more true when using photos to teach and reinforce key language arts skills. When I was teaching 4th grade, I would teach with photos mostly by using them as writing prompts. I would project a photo up on the board and give students the chance to free-write. I quickly noticed how much more my students were able to pull from just one photograph. I would hear them using descriptive adjectives and verbs, as well as terms related to some of the comprehension skills and strategies they had already learned. This made realize how valuable photos could be when reinforcing other language arts skills.
Students make the best observers! They notice just about everything, down to the little details. When my students would use photos for writing prompts, I always encouraged them to start with creating lists or notes about all the different details that they noticed in the photo. This would help them to decide what to write about and how to incorporate the different details that they collected.
Parts of Speech
Pictures make learning and using parts of speech so much fun! Ask students to identify parts of speech that they see in a picture. Imagine a photo of students at recess time. There are so many nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that students will be able to identify, based on who is in the picture, what they are like, what they are doing, and even how they are doing it. Ask students to use these parts of speech in a sentence that relates to the photograph.
Comprehension Skills & Strategies
So many of the comprehension skills and strategies that we teach rely on students to use details to support their understanding. Predictions, inferences, connections, and main idea all require DETAILS! What better tool to reinforce these skills, than PHOTOS! You can use photos to pose questions such as:
- What is a possible CHARACTER TRAIT for the student in this picture? Use details from the photo to support your answer.
- What INFERENCE can you make about the girl in this picture? Use details from the photo to support your answer.
Photos are a great way to introduce and practice using new vocabulary words. Introduce words that might relate to a picture, and prompt students to use details in the picture to write a sentence using that new word. When students are able to associate a new word to an image, it helps them to not only understand the meaning of the word, but how to use it to make meaning.
So many ideas can pop up from just one photograph, which makes them perfect for writing prompts. Students can tell a story based on the details from a picture or write an opinion sparked by what might be taking place in the photo. You can also have students write about something that connects them to the picture. They can write about a similar event or emotion that is depicted and relate it to their own life. There are so many possibilities!
You definitely have to try these strategies in your classroom! I am sharing a FREE SAMPLE of my Picture Prompt Language Arts Warm-Ups. Each of these activities include practice with all the skills mentioned above. The free sample includes one printable page and one digital page for you to try!
The full resource for these Picture Prompts includes 40 different prompts, one for each week of the school year. Click HERE or on the image below to take a closer look. Printable and digital versions of each picture prompt are included, and there is tons of variety so that students are practicing different skills throughout the year.
I hope that you will give picture prompts a try in your classroom! They are just perfect for reinforcing and practicing so many different language arts skills! The best part is that your students will absolutely love them!