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 rounded up a whole collection of intriguing images for use with kids in grades K-12 along. Plus we designed a set of free Google Slides featuring all of the prompts so you can easily share them with students.
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.
Don’t miss our free downloadable. Grab your full set of ready-to-go Picture Writing Prompts Google Slides with all of the prompts below.
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?”
When Larry fell in love, he fell hard.
When the new sign appeared on Main Street, everyone in town wondered exactly what it meant.
After that crazy day, all that was left to show for it was footprints in the snow.
“Come with me if you want to live!” Ash said, reaching out a hand.
For years, no one saw the locked treasure chest but the local fish, who wondered what it could contain.
A Game of Fetch
To Scout, it was a game, but to Mr. Freezy, it was much more.
The ladybug’s picnic was an excellent chance to meet up with old friends and hear all the latest gossip.
We met them when they peeked into our window, watching us as we ate lunch and watched cartoons.
King of the Jungle
It wasn’t the crown that made Amari the king of all he surveyed.
The Final Pitch
It all came down to this—the final pitch in a game that was tied 2-2.
Every dog in the neighborhood knew that Rocky gave the best massages and was always willing to lend an ear too.
When Charli got her first skateboard, she made herself a promise.
Garden of the Past
The woman walked in the garden every day, never saying a word.
They met on the jungle gym every day at sunset, sharing everything about their days.
When the pink umbrellas first appeared, Toni thought they might be magic.
Olivia was surprised to discover that the fireflies didn’t just glow, they also sang.
When it first crawled ashore, the mechanical spider moved slowly.
Staring at their house, which was now on its side, the whole family was in shock.
Red Riding Hood
If only she’d been riding her faithful steed the day she’d met the Big Bad Wolf, things might have been very different.
“Well, this is embarrassing,” thought Bouncer, as laughter filled the air around him.
Daci’s big brother said her signs wouldn’t help them find their runaway cat, but he was wrong.
A visit to Mr. Pickerel’s Penguin Bookshop is always an adventure.
Of all the eggs in the carton, Ella was the one who could always crack you up.
That was the year Min was finally tall enough to ride the Sky Swings, but now she wasn’t so sure.
Rubber Duck Parade
It was truly an honor to be asked to lead the Spring Duck Parade.
Teddy Story Time
Every afternoon, the three friends gathered for story time in their favorite spot in the woods.
Nia thought going to school underwater would be exciting, but some days she really missed going outside for recess.
The day Amos started his journey down the river, the sun was shining brightly.
“None shall pass,” growled the old sea turtle, blocking the way.
Pia was supposed to keep Balthazar on a leash, but once they reached the forest, she set him free and they both began to run.
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.
Morgan was incredibly proud of those shoes, paid for entirely with money from after-school jobs.
Never Lose Hope
With his last bit of energy, Kai scrawled his message in the wet paint.
Get Me Out
The keyboard button could only be used once, and no one knew exactly what happened when you pressed it.
Before she could even speak, Arya was drawn to the black and white keys.
There was no doubt about it, this was was indeed a very special kind of garden.
No matter how you looked at it, it had been a very rough day to be the Easter Bunny.
By sunset, all four chairs were empty, and the only signs of life were the gulls swooping down from above.
To the birds, it was simply a convenient place to land, but Ali and I knew it was much more than that.
That was the day they discovered that just because you were invisible didn’t mean your shadow was.
Letter and Key
The day she turned 12, Vivi’s aunt handed her an envelope containing the family secret.
Onyx paused, knowing that once their arrow hit the target, there was no knowing what would happen.
It was a mermaid—or was it?
World on a String
Her dad had promised to give her the world, but she wasn’t expecting three more planets as well.
“This flower ain’t big enough for the both of us!” said Bianca.
For as long as anyone could remember, Angus McGee spent his evenings in the same chair next to the woodstove.
When you decide to run away from home forever, you can’t possibly leave your best friend behind.
In retrospect, setting the time machine to randomly choose a day and time in the past might not have been such a good idea.
“Choose wisely,” said the old shopkeeper, “for only one of these lamps is truly magic.”
Message in a Bottle
The message floated at sea for more than 50 years before the day we found it on the beach.
Of all the ways to impress someone, Jonah thought to himself, this had to be one of the most ridiculous.
When your parents give you your own dragon guardian, your childhood is bound to be enchanted.
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.
To join the club, all Aaron had to do was creep up and snatch the apple from the skeleton’s hand without being seen.
“It is now 3 p.m., and I call this meeting of the Mighty Council of Giraffes to order,” announced Imari.
At first glance, it was hard to tell whether the little creature was friend or foe.
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.
Out of the Book
“Happily ever after” was about to take on a whole new meaning.
I was sure that the time on the broken clock was the clue to solving the mystery.
It’s never a good idea to build your web too close to another spider’s, but this time I had no choice.
Do Shoes Grow on Trees?
The day I threw my own shoes into the tree was the day I really started to grow up.
“So,” asked their art teacher, “what do you think this painting means?”
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.
The cave was unlike anything we’d ever seen before, and what was more, it almost seemed like the rock was alive.
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.
That’s when Javed realized it wasn’t that the grasshopper was too big—it was that he was suddenly very, very small.
“Well, that’s convenient,” Javdok remarked to Qabow when they saw the sign.
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.
When she was 14, Tasha’s parents finally told her the truth about what she really was.
“So, I’m guessing no one told you I’m a vegetarian?” asked Sadie with a smile.
The latest app was like a time machine, allowing people to look back in time, but it also had a dark side.
She was surrounded by people but never felt more alone.
Like all parents, hippos sometimes really need a break from their kids.
Grandpa Jack never failed to surprise us.
Marching Band Blues
Kaleel sat sadly on the bench, watching the rest of the band march away in jaunty time to the music.
The tunnel seemed to stretch to infinity, but Jayma knew what was at the end, and it terrified her.
Carving Out Love
For years, we wondered who “WP” was, and who it was who loved them so much they carved it into a tree for all to see.
Just then, the globe began to glow, and Jaxson knew he was about to leap through space and time once again—destination unknown.
See No Evil
It seemed like a funny joke to pose the skeletons in front of old Mrs. Petoski’s house, but then she turned up dead, and the police said it was murder.
It’s an odd feeling to wake up one morning and find yourself able to walk on the ceiling.
Face at the Fence
So much depended on which side of the fence you were on.
Finley had trained too hard for this race to come in third—it just wasn’t good enough.
In the picture, my grandmother’s expression is hard to interpret, but she’s told me the story many times.
Dani never expected to meet her first love feet first.
Molly’s mom probably didn’t mean for her to be the one to find the note, but that’s how things turned out.
Through the Storm
Javier knew it would have been smarter to stay put, but he had to make sure his mom was safe before the worst of the storm arrived.
They’d been friends for as long as they could remember—even longer, in fact.
“I am NOT taking you home with me,” Kai told the tiny mewling kitten firmly.
Willow was free to leave at any time, but she couldn’t make herself go.
Amani’s earliest memory was razor wire—miles and miles of it.
Everyone feels differently in a graveyard, but for me, they’re very peaceful places.
Orb of Death
“Do you really want to know?” Death asked. “Because once you know, you won’t be able to forget.”
Steve was sure his shot would make it, but it bounced off the rim just as the buzzer rang to end the game.
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.
Train to Nowhere
It certainly wasn’t the most luxurious way to travel, but then again, no one really wanted to make this trip in the first place.
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.
From the day he found the little creature, Luis refused to go anywhere without him.
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.
At the elite level, being a spy meant serious commitments.
The Yellow Door
On their 14th birthday, every resident of Fresnia was required to stand before the Wall of Doors and make a choice.
To strangers, it seemed random, but every mark on those walls had deep meaning for us.
Millions of years ago, the fish gave one final flop before lying still in the deep mud.
On the Rails
Aliyah stood on the tracks, uncertain of where to go next.
Art Picture Writing Prompts
These picture prompts are all works of art, some more well known than others. Try providing them to students without sharing the titles first, then offer up the titles if they need some help getting started.
The Dance Class (Edgar Degas)
Greek Funerary Plaque (520-510 BCE)
Washington Crossing the Delaware (Emanuel Leutze)
Kyōsai’s Pictures of One Hundred Demons
First Steps, After Millet (Vincent van Gogh)
Lady Lilith (Dante Gabriel Rossetti)
A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (Georges Seurat)
After the Hurricane, Bahamas (Winslow Homer)
Drawing Lots for Prizes (Kitagawa Utamaro)
Portions of Field Armor (Jacob Halder)
Sadie Pfeifer, a Cotton Mill Spinner (Lewis Wickes Hine)
Still Life With Monkey, Fruits, and Flowers (Jean Baptiste Oudry)
Man Leading a Giraffe, 5th Century Byzantine
The Three Skulls (Paul Cézanne)
The Madame B Album (Marie-Blanche Hennelle Fournier)
Coiled Trumpet in the Form of a Snarling Feline Face (c. 100 BCE to 500 CE)
Crazy Quilt With Animals (Florence Elizabeth Marvin)
Storytime (Eugenio Zampighi)
Cubist Village (Georges Gaudion)
Zig-Zag Passenger and Freight Train (Unknown)
The Power of Music (William Sidney Mount)
The Large Tree (Paul Gauguin)
After the Bath (Mary Cassatt)
Wedding Gown (Korea, Late 1800s)
The Contemplator (Eugène Carrière)
The Girl I Left Behind Me (Eastman Johnson)
24c Curtiss Jenny Invert Single
Creeping Baby Doll Patent Model
Wrecked Zeppelin (British Library)
Skeleton (Tales of Terror Frontispiece)
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