Picture Prompt: An ESL Warm-Up For Kids and Adults

Picture prompt ESL warm-up

An ESL Warm-Up Activity

Picture prompt is a great ESL warm-up for kids as well as adults that can be used for all levels from beginner to advanced. Show students an image and have them generate questions or speculate about the picture.


For lower level students, this can be purely descriptive:

Q: What do you see?   A: I see a house, a car, and some people.

Q: What color is the car?   A: It is blue.

For high beginner/low intermediate students, have an image which can generate questions such as:

What is happening in this picture?

How does that person feel?

Why do you think so?

For more advanced students, have an unusual image. Encourage them to create a narrative to explain the story. This activity can also be done as a Quick Write.

Teaching Tips:

You can find collections of unusual images online which are perfect for advanced students to create their narratives. If you want to use this as a writing activity with beginner or low intermediate students, give them a worksheet of questions to answer.


1. In advance, prepare an image, either PowerPoint or a picture large enough for the class to easily see.

2. Divide students into pairs or small groups.

3. Depending on the level of the students:

Elicit descriptive sentences about the image. Encourage them to make their own questions to ask a partner.

Have them discuss what they think is happening in the picture, how the person/ people feel and why they think so, etc.

Have them create a narrative about the image. (Unusual images work well for this.)

4. Optionally, have them write their responses.

Like this ESL Activity? 

It’s from this book: 39 ESL Warm-Ups: For Kids (7+). There are 38 more like it. If you want to get your classes started off on the right foot, it’s the book you need! ESL teaching awesome made easy.

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