“I don’t know what to write about!”
“I can’t think of any ideas!”
“I don’t wanna write a story!”
These are common complaints of elementary aged students who have been asked to write. They either have too many ideas and don’t know where to start or are completely uninspired.
Unfortunately, the best way to improve writing is by writing. So, if you’re a teacher or parent hoping to improve writing skills, you’ve got to get the kids to write.
As an elementary school teacher and at the library program I run, the best inspiration I’ve found by FAR are photo prompts. What better inspiration is there? At the very least, students can write a vivid description of what they see, which often leads them to other ideas that may turn into a story. Others are instantly on task, beginning a wild tale that begins with a quick look at a crazy photo. Here’s one of my favorites:
What child doesn’t want to write about waking up to a sink full of gummy bears?
Here are some of the many reasons I love photo prompts and how you can use them best:
1. You Can’t Overdo It
During one writing unit, I showed a new photo prompt every day for a few weeds. The kids were always excited about it and eager to see the next image that would be shown.
2. You Can Target Specific Writing Skills
Doing a unit on adjectives or verbs? You can tailor the writing prompt and activity around it. For example, if focusing on adjectives, show a fantastic photo prompt and ask the children to first make a list of adjectives about the image or objects in the image. Then, you can continue to ask them to write a story.
Or, use a photo prompt to feature characters. You can have kids create a character description based on a person or animal in a photo prompt.
The possibilities for tailoring a writing prompt are endless.
3. Warm Up
The start of class can be tough. Some kids don’t know what to do and wander around the classroom. A photo prompt in a strategic location can be the perfect way to get kids focused on some productive work.
4. Make A Portfolio
After using photo prompts for some time and keeping a record of all the stories/ideas written, this is a great source for kids to pick out their favorite and write a longer story. For some kids, it’s tough to build up a portfolio. With photo prompts, kids can often quickly build up a number of pieces to select from later.
5. They Appeal to Everyone
There is such a great range of photo prompts out there. If not everyone likes the pick for one day, they’ll probably like the next one that comes up.
My Favorite New Photo Prompts
Check out these very cool, new photo prompts I can’t wait to show the kids at the library program:
And finally, if you’re always in need of more photo prompts, check out my pinterest photo prompts page. I always update. There are enough to last you a year! Well, a few months anyway.
How do you use photo prompts?