Wordless Picture Books and Story Starter Activities

Have you ever used wordless pictures or wordless picture books?

What are the benefits of Wordless Pictures?

Wordless pictures are a way to encourage students to make inferences. They see the picture and take what they already know and write a sentence or a story about it. It also helps the students with their analyzing skills. They really need to look at the picture to decide what it is about.

Wordless pictures are a way for students to get some ideas for their writing, it also helps them to be able to write about a specific activity or event. They look at a picture and look for all the details that they see. It does take some modeling. See the questions you can ask below or CLICK HERE FOR A FULL LIST. This is a skill that students will continue to use year after year.

They also help students with their visual imagery. Many students have a hard time picturing what a story is about in their head. They need to be taught how to do it. Just telling them to make a movie in their head about the story is not good enough for many. We use specific questioning techniques to help train their brains to make these visual images

What about Wordless Books?

Wordless books are books with just the pictures and the words taken out. These stories work great for creativity and helping students to imagine stories. They get to be the one that makes the story and choses the names of the characters. Plus they add in their own details.  They are often events that a student can make personal connections.

Another advantage to wordless stories is that it helps with comprehension. The students need to focus more on the story, they are making the picture in their mind as they go through the story. These visual strategies help students to visualize the story, therefore helping them to comprehend and remember. 

Teaching Students to Read the Pictures

Young readers “read the pictures” all the time. They look through the book at just the pictures and read what they see. It comes more naturally for many. 

This is a great skill to teach our students to do before they know how to read. I model this. We can do this with any picture book. You can just ignore the print on the pages and make it up, just like you would expect them to do. 

Since there isn’t a story attached to it, it is fun for students to be creative and make a story up.

Wordless stories also help students to see the story elements like: Setting, character, problems, solutions. 

How can this be used in the classroom?

Wordless picture books should be taught near the beginning of the school year. This is done through modeling. This will equip your students to start silent reading when they still don’t know how to read. They build up that stamina, procedure, and skill to work quietly. It also helps them to be able to create stories in their heads.

Wordless Pictures and Writing Stories

Wordless pictures are used to help students write stories. Find pictures that have action, potential problem or a problem. These pictures can be found online, old calendar pages, or CLICK HERE for some pre-planned pictures. 

Another way to use these in the classroom is for Visual Imagery practice. Students look at the picture and describe all the details of the picture. This will help create a visual image for them. 

Visualizing Activity:

The teacher puts a picture up for students to see, but the teacher can’t see the picture. With their back to the board, the teacher calls on students to answer questions about the picture. See questions below. CLICK HERE FOR A FULL LIST

This helps students to visualize when they read, which helps them with their comprehension. As students read they will start to visualize the story they are reading in their head. They will be able to recall detail from the story because they have a picture in their head. 

Reading Activity

Another activity is to read students a story without showing them the pictures and to help them visualize the story without the pictures. 

Writing Activity

For our first picture, I put it up on the board. We discuss it and go through our visualizing questions.

  • What is going on in the picture? 
  • Why are the characters doing that?
  • What do you hear?
  • How old are the characters?
  • What time of day is it?
  • Where does the wall go to?
  • How does that rock feel?
  • What season is it?
  • What is going to happen when they land?
  • Have you seen a wall like that?
  • What would you smell?

Then we get out our story maps, it makes it pretty easy to fill in our story maps about the picture. We know the setting, the characters, the build up, however we need to come up with a possible problem and a solution. 

Then the students can use their story maps to write out a rough draft of their story. This writing unit is included in our Narrative Writing Unit, CLICK HERE and it is a Stand Alone Writing Mini Unit, CLICK HERE for more information.

If your interested in our FREE Visualizing Questions Quick reference sheet, CLICK HERE.


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