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.
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 writing times.
- 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.
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Whose cat is this? What is he looking at? Where is he?
What is the owl thinking about? Is he alone? What does he hope to eat for dinner?
Who are these frogs? What is their relationship with each other? Why are they taking photos?
How did the dog get a phone? Why is he taking selfies? What is he doing with the pictures he takes?
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?
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?
Where do these lemurs live? What are they looking at? What is something unusual that might happen to them?
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?
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?
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?
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?
Why is the dog wearing glasses? Can he see through them? What are he and the girl doing? How does he feel about it?
Who are these two little boys? What is their relationship with each other? What is the teddy bear’s story?
Who are these children? Why are they running? Is it a race or are they playing a game? Who’s going to win?
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?
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?
Where is this man? How did he get there? What is he looking for?
Who is walking over the bridge? What’s on the other side? Is it worth the risk?
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?
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?
Whose typewriter is this? What important or secretive thing might they be working on? What could happen if the wrong person finds their work?
Who are these three stuffed animals? Are they living? What is their story?
Whose ukulele is this? Why did they leave it here? Who might find it?
Where is the owner of the bike? Where does this path lead? What if the bike’s not there when the owner returns?
Whose shoes are these? Why did they leave them here? Why are they so dirty?
Who was reading the newspaper? What was the most interesting thing they read? Where have they disappeared to?
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?
Who set the table? Who are they expecting? What special occasion are they celebrating? What could go wrong?
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?
Who lives here? How do they access their home? What is their life like?
Who built the igloo? Where is it? How does it feel to spend the night inside it?
What is the history of this castle? Who lives in it now? Does it have any special or magical features?
Is this barn abandoned or do people live on the property? What kind of animals might live here? How do they keep themselves entertained?
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?
Where is this hut? Who lives here? What mystery might unfold if a stranger came knocking at their door?
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?
How did this house get here? Does anyone live in it? What would life be like here?
Where is this festive street? Are the people there celebrating something? Where is everybody?
Who lives here? How did they build this house? Are they hiding from something? What does it look like inside?
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?
What are these women doing? What are they supposed to be doing? Will they be in trouble if they get caught?
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?
Where is this? Who is riding in the hot air balloons? Where are they going and why?
How old is this tree? Where is it? What are some of the most fascinating stories it could tell?
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?
What are these people thinking about? What’s at stake for them? What happens if one of them sneezes?
Where are these penguins? What are they talking about? Which one of them is the leader?
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?
Who are these kids? Is this what they’re supposed to be doing? What happens when their teacher sees them?
Who is supposed to ride in this boat? Where are they going? Will they make it there?
Is this plane special to someone? What did they have to do to get it/build it? Where will they fly to in it?
Who decorated this train car? Which passengers will fill it up? What will they talk about?
Whose skis are these? Why are they sticking out of the snow? How did their owner get down the mountain without them?
Where does this gondola go? Who rides it? How does it feel to ride it?
Who’s driving the monster truck? Why is it at the beach? What is it going to crush? Who is watching?
Where is the boat going? Who is on it? What is their mission?
What city is the helicopter flying over? Why? Is the driver looking for something specific or do they have a special delivery?
What’s the little boy doing in the boat? Is he alone or is someone with him? Where is he trying to go?
Who is in the sub? What’s it like inside? What are they doing?
Whose book is this? What’s it about? What’s happening to 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?
Who is this girl? Where is she? Who is she shooting at?
Where does this scene take place? Is the lizard/dragon good or bad? What is its relationship with the girl?
What do these books represent? What kind of world is this? What (or who) is inside the books?
What are these dinosaurs discussing? Where are they? What do they do for fun?
Whose cottage is this? Do they still live there? If not, where have they gone? If so, what do they do there?
What is the moth thinking about? Is it alone? What’s the biggest challenge it faces in this moment?
Who is the owl looking at? Has it read these books? What is its greatest talent?
Where are these trees? Why are they pink? Do they have any special powers or features?
What do you think? Which kind of pictures do you like best for creative writing prompts ? Let us know in the comments.
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.
Tuesday 23rd of May 2023
The weirdest thing I ever wanted whatever really weird stop doing this
Sunday 26th of March 2023
I LOVE THIS
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145 Picture Prompts to Inspire Student Writing
A school year’s worth of short, accessible image-driven posts that invite a variety of kinds of writing.
By The Learning Network
Image from our related Picture Prompt “ Creative Juices .”
We’ve been publishing our Picture Prompts series four days a week since 2016. Below, we’ve rounded up all the prompts we published for the 2021-22 school year.
These short, accessible, image-driven prompts invite students to pen short stories, poems and memoirs; share experiences from their lives; analyze illustrations, graphs and charts; and tell us their opinions on hot-button issues.
You can find even more in our roundups for the 2016-17 , 2017-18 , 2018-19 , 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years. That’s nearly 900 prompts, many still open for comment by students 13 and up. We have also published a short, visual post highlighting four popular prompts from this school year.
To learn how you can use Picture Prompts to build literacy skills, promote critical thinking, inspire discussion and foster creativity in your classroom, watch our three-minute tutorial video or our on-demand webinar . For dozens more ideas, see our lesson plan, “ How to Teach With Our Picture Prompts (and Other Times Images) .”
If you use this feature with your students, or if you have other ideas for how to use photos, illustrations and graphics to encourage writing, let us know in the comments.
What story does this image inspire for you?
Phone Booth in the Wilderness Roller Coasters In the Waves In the Lunchroom Den of Toys Butterflies Flight Delays Two Roads Dog Park Friendship Under the Sea Found in the Crowd Under the Desk Barren Landscape Park Bench Other Selves On the Court Holiday Party Little Red House Candy Cornucopia Doors Mystery Money Royal Dining Up in a Tree Around the Fire Galaxy Plundered Shelves Confetti Solo Climb At the Fountain Heated Conversation Yellow Creatures Meadow in Starlight Storm On the Subway Giant Jar Family
Share experiences from your own life.
Pet Ownership Creative Juices Horror Stories One Great Summer Memory Dining Out Riddle Me This Your Go-To Recipes Hitting the Road Comic Con Craze October Thrifting Harry Potter Self-Compassion Holiday Shopping Giving Gratitude Festive Wear Measuring Time Winter TV Shows Sacred Spaces Your Tech Local Celebrities Winter Olympics Wildlife in Winter Group Chat Winter Getaways D.I.Y. Taste Test Spring Fashion March Madness Mask Withdrawal Your Favorite Tree Rites of Spring Fortuitous Finds Hanging Out Heartbroken Best Pizza? Everyday Pleasures Musical Instruments
What do you think this image, chart or cartoon is saying?
Hands Blasting Out of a Phone Dings and Pings Pulling at a Reflection Memorial Twisting Track Elephant and Donkey Tiny Dollar Clouds Vision Test The Whole World Work and Home Bedroom Staring Crossed-Out Words Clicking Her Heels Weapon Burger Quitting Spoonfed Brady Mesmerized Skates Melting Man Lit-Up Landmarks Literary Allusions A Brick on an Egg Listening and Clapping Between the Ears Smiling X’s on Bubbles Eyeballs Inside Vs. Outside Amazon Boxes Area Closed High Wire Very, Very Tired
What’s your opinion on this issue?
A New Social App Morality Plays Flamboyant Fashion Home Games Powering Down Facebook Outage Old Glory Custom Cars Tourist Surveillance E-Scooters, E-Bikes Motorcycle Adventures Veterans Day Book Lovers Speed Skydiving Gift-Giving, Gift-Getting Solstice Favorite Moments in Sports Your Word of the Year Guilty Pleasures Smart Watch Wordle True Love? Prized Possessions Audiobooks Separate Together TV-Themed Trips Forgiveness Life at Sea Constructive Criticism Electric Cars Little Free Libraries Met Gala #VanLife Responding to the Shooting in Uvalde
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Try These Picture Writing Prompts To Inspire Creativity in Students
Use a picture to write a thousand words!
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’ve rounded up a whole collection of intriguing images for use with kids in grades K-12.
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.
Elementary Picture Writing Prompts
Middle school picture writing prompts, high school 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?”
Finally Seeing Eye to Eye
“So, we meet at last, face to face,” Lord Squeakerton said to his enemy, the Count of Catnip.
It takes a lot to surprise a monkey, but you don’t see something like this every day.
Not Coming Out
The day started out normally enough, but by the end, Chris knew he was in over his head.
Life on Other Planets
“Hurry up,” Grnklor told his robopup. “We have to get back inside before nightfall.”
The wind had died down, but the setting sun seemed to take all the warmth of the day with it.
Something to Celebrate
Their classmates could hear their shouts of joy from all the way down the hall.
Home Sweet Mushroom
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
“There it is! I told you, Nessie is real!” Angus whispered to Lee.
It was hard to say who was lonelier that night, Amil or his lost stuffed bear, Jasper.
Sometimes You Lose
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.
Wouldn’t you like to be under the sea, in an octopus’s garden in the shade?
Around the Corner
After finally pressing “send,” she couldn’t resist peeking around the corner to watch him read the text.
Beam Me Up!
Milo’s earliest memory was of watching his beloved tricycle float into the sky above him, caught in a beam of light.
“It is now 3 p.m., and I call this meeting of the Mighty Council of Giraffes to order,” announced Imari.
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
Despite their best efforts, they arrived too late—the battle had already begun.
Do Shoes Grow on Trees?
The day I threw my own shoes into the tree was the day I really started to grow up.
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
It all started when Quinn watched her favorite movie the night before they assigned partners for the eighth grade science fair project.
Storm at Sea
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.
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.
This was it—the moment that would change what it meant to be human forever.
One Life to Live
His face said his life had been a hard one, but his eyes told a different tale.
Snow fell, creating a blank canvas to record the story of that fateful walk.
Modern Mary Poppins
She dropped into our lives on a gray day in midwinter, a hint of the spring that was to come.
All That Remains
Dust motes filled the air of the abandoned hallway, replacing the voices once heard there.
Their happily ever after began quietly, with a bouquet of wildflowers.
Misty rain both blurred and emphasized the lights that lit Suri’s way home that evening.
Forest of Fear
At first, Mateo thought it was a joke, but the screams that followed told him there was nothing remotely funny about it.
The Yellow Door
On their 14th birthday, every resident of Fresnia was required to stand before the Wall of Doors and make a choice.
On the Rails
Aliyah stood on the tracks, uncertain of where to go next.
How do you use picture writing prompts in your classroom? Come share ideas and ask for advice in the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .
Plus, check out how we can use writing time to nurture sel skills ..
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Winter Scene Writing Prompts
Abandoned places, double click the image to make fullscreen, some forest/woodland stimuli, a pathway to where, tiny dragon.
- Where is it from?
- Why is it so small?
- Are there more like him?
- Where does he live?
- How will you look after it?
- Will you keep it a secret or tell someone?
- What is it called?
- Is it magic? What magic can it do?
Credits: laurent chehere/galerie paris-beijing www.laurentchehere.com, writing flashbacks.
What has just happened?
Links to keeping healthy, its pouring down and he is just stood there. who is he and who is he waiting for.
Friend or foe?
There is a Wizard in My Potting Shed
Time stood still for all but one man., i saw her and then she was gone, i heard her whispering for me to follow. it only took me a few seconds for me to decide....
These moving images can be copy and pasted into powerpoint etc and they still move.
Where does it lead to who is at the other end who are the two people who made it when was it made.
- Image Prompts
85+ Picture Writing Prompts For Kids (+ Free Printable)
A picture is worth a thousand words. So how many words can you write for these 85 picture writing prompts for kids and grow-ups alike! Pictures, whether something as simple as an apple or as complex as an action scene can spark the imagination in more ways than one.
Of course, when looking at pictures you can take the literal route, and describe whatever you see in front of you. Or you can explore your imagination, and think about the ‘What Ifs..’ of a picture. What if that person is actually upset? What if this picture is of a broken family? What if the world looked like this years ago? A picture can have so many hidden meanings and can hide so many secrets. The slightest detail could mean everything. Just imagine you’re a detective solving a crime from one picture alone. Examine every detail, write it down and think why? Only then can you fully understand a picture.
For more inspiration take part in our daily picture writing prompt challenge . Each day you will be given a new picture prompt to write about.
Picture Prompt Generator
In this post, we have included a mix of simple pictures, story picture prompts, photographs, fantasy images and even some action-packed images.
You can find the complete list of our picture writing prompts below. We’ve also created a smaller PDF version that includes 30 random picture prompts. Download the printable PDF here .
You might also be interested in the following posts:
- 30 Christmas Pictures To Get You Writing ‘Tis Jolly Season
- 25+ Halloween Image Prompts For Mastering Horror Stories
- How to Use Image prompts To Inspire You
150 Picture Prompts To Inspire
Over 85 picture prompts for creative writing, story-telling and descriptive writing assignments:
How to Use these Prompts
Picture prompts are the perfect writing stimulus especially when you hit writer’s block . Here are a number of ways you can use these picture writing prompts to spark your imagination:
- Descriptive Writing: Directly describe everything you see in extreme detail. You could even go beyond the physical appearance of things, and explore your other senses, such as smell, hear, feel and taste.
- Story-Telling: Pick just one image, and tell a whole story based on this one image.
- Story Starter: Similarly you can pick one image, and use it as the starting place of your story.
- Collaborative Story-Telling: In a group of 5 – 7 students, each student can have a random picture. The first student uses their picture as the story starter, and then the next student continues the story based on their own image. Keep going until the final student ends the story.
- Idea Generation: Pick one image and try to think of at least 3 story ideas related to that one image.
- Daily Writing Challenge: Give your students 7 images, and tell them to write a description for each image every day.
These are just some ways to use images as writing prompts. You can also check our post on 8 fun story-telling games using image prompts for more ideas. Did you find our picture writing prompts useful? Let us know in the comments below!
Marty the wizard is the master of Imagine Forest. When he's not reading a ton of books or writing some of his own tales, he loves to be surrounded by the magical creatures that live in Imagine Forest. While living in his tree house he has devoted his time to helping children around the world with their writing skills and creativity.
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