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
Elementary 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 Picture Writing Prompts
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 Picture Writing Prompts
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.