Picture Prompt | ESL Warm-Up For Kids and Adults

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ESL Warm-Up: Picture Prompt

Are you looking for a super-quick, easy warm-up for any levels of ESL student? Then you’re most certainly in the right place.

Keep on reading for all the details about this ESL warm-up activity for children as well as adults.

ESL Warm-Up Activity: Picture Prompt

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

Example for Lower-Level Students

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 colour is the car?   

A: It is blue.

Example for Intermediate Level Students

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?

Example for Advanced Students

For more advanced students, use an unusual image. Encourage them to create a narrative to explain the story.

This activity can also be done with writing. You could have students create a story about the picture in a few minutes.

Or, you could have them write an explanation for what happened.


Picture Prompt ESL warm-up

Teaching Tips for Picture Prompt: 

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.

If you have more advanced students in a writing class, more options are available to you for what you can do.

This activity can be an excellent lead-in for a holiday themed lesson. For more ideas, you’ll want to check out: Thanksgiving ESL Games and Activities. 

Procedure for this ESL Warm-Up

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 (optional).

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 students write their responses.

Like this ESL Warm-Up Activity?

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ESL Warm-Ups: Have your Say!

What is your go-to ESL warm-up activity in your classes? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.

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