Writing to a Photograph

Kathryn Gregory
Multiple Subject Teacher

Students will develop a plan for a fictional story based on a picture.

Grade Level: 3 - 6th

Subject: English/Language Arts

Length of Time: About 45-60 Minutes

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Common Core Alignment

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.3 - Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

Objectives & Outcomes

Students will write a narrative to develop an imagined experience or event using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. Note: This lesson can be modified in a variety of ways and used across the grade levels. Students could use the same lesson plan to write a non-fiction story based on a personal picture, or a picture of which they know the background.

Materials Needed

  • A copy of the picture (provided)
  • Pencil
  • Overhead projector or elmo
  • Graphic organizer (provided)


Opening to Lesson

  • The following opening could be very different depending on your class. Write these bolded words on the board, or use a copy of the graphic organizer on the overhead and fill them in as your class develops the story.
  • The teacher can put a picture of a known person on the board, such as the principal, the president of the school, ect…
  • Now ask the students what they think this person’s name is. Students an shout out the answer.
  • Write on the board: Main character: Principal Jones (for example)
  • Now ask the students where Principal Jones is.
  • Write on the board: Setting: East Avenue Elementary School
  • Now tell the students that he is dealing with a problem and have students guess what it is. Let them think-pair-share for ideas.
  • Write on the board: Problem: A goat has snuck onto campus and is hiding in the boys bathroom, principal jones has to figure out how to get it out.
  • Have the students think-pair-share what principal Jones does to take care of the situation and write the brainstorm on the board with the students help.
  • Event: Principal Jones calls the goat’s owner, but he is at work and can’t come until after school.
  • Event: One of the 1st graders was already in the bathroom and now he cannot get out.
  • Solution: Student body president rescues the 1st grader by distracting the goat with carrots and luring the scared student out of the bathroom. Principal Jones locks the bathroom until the owner can come.

Body of Lesson

  • Now teacher gives copies of photos to students, or displays the photo on the overhead. The picture provided below can be used, students can bring in pictures, or the teacher can choose another one.
  • Give students a copy of the graphic organizer attached, you may wish to make it larger so they have enough room for more thoughts.
  • Write the following questions on the board:
    • What are the kid’s names?
    • Where are they?
      • What do you see in the background?
      • What creative words can you think of to describe the background?
      • What geography related words can you use to describe their setting?
    • Where are they coming from?
    • Where are they going?
    • Why are they alone?
      • Are their parents or teacher around?
      • Are they lost?
    • Is the little boy crying? Why?
    • What is a problem that these kids could have?
    • How could they solve it?
    • What problems might come up as they are trying to solve the problem?
    • How do they resolve them?
    • How is the original problem solved in the end?
  • Lead a class discussion for the first few questions, and encourage the students to give unique answers.
  • Have students work independently or in pairs to answer the rest of the questions.
  • Have students complete the graphic organizer.


Once students have completed the graphic organizer with as much detail as possible, students will be ready to write a creative fictional essay based on their graphic organizer.

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Assessment & Evaluation

Students will complete an essay that will be assessed by the teacher.

Modification & Differentiation

The teacher can work with students in small groups for those who need extra assistance.

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