This school year we added a new feature to our daily lineup of student activities. Called “Picture Prompts,” these short, accessible, image-driven posts feature photographs and illustrations from The Times, and invite a variety of written or spoken responses — from creative storytelling to personal narrative to constructing an argument or analyzing what a work of “op-art” might be saying.
Teachers tell us they use these prompts to inspire student writing — whether in their journals, as a timed opportunity or to practice inferring meaning “without worrying about getting the right or wrong answer.”
They also use them with a variety of learners, from high school to middle or elementary school students to English Language Learners of all ages. As one teacher put it, she uses them “for helping teenagers to start talking to each other.”
Below, we’ve categorized the 160+ prompts we published during the 2016-17 school year based on the type of writing they primarily encourage students to do. All are still open for comment. Plus, we have a lesson plan on how to teach with Picture Prompts, along with other Times images, in case you’re looking for more inspiration.
If you use this feature with your students, or if you have other ideas for how to use images and writing prompts with students, let us know in the comments section.Continue reading the main story
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a narrative essay can also tell an exciting story and create vivid pictures in the reader’s mind! We’ve got 50 narrative essay topics designed to prompt students to craft memorable written narratives. These can be modified for students in elementary, middle and high school. Feel free to print the entire essay topics list for plenty of inspiration for your next narrative essay assignment!
Tell a Story About…
- Your first day of school.
- Your most exciting day of school
- A field trip that your class took.
- Your favorite summer vacation.
- A trip that included something unexpected or surprising.
- A time that you experienced something spooky.
- A time that you experienced something truly frightening.
- A time that you learned something new that changed you in some way.
- The moment when you met someone who changed your life.
- The day that you got your first pet.
- A move from one place to another.
- Something funny that happened to you.
- Something funny that happened to one of your family members or friends.
- Something embarrassing that happened to you.
- Your favorite birthday party.
- A birthday that was disappointing.
- A big storm (rain, snow or even a tornado!).
- A time that the power went out.
- A summer day when the temperature got much higher than expected.
- A time when you went to an amusement park.
- A time when you got lost somewhere.
- A memorable experience with a favorite family member.
- A sad experience with someone about whom you care.
- Your most exciting moment playing sports.
- Your most exciting moment performing in a play, singing, playing music or dancing.
- An experience that left you feeling frustrated.
- An experience that was hard but ended up being worth it.
- A time that you experienced rejection.
- A weird encounter with a stranger.
- A random act of kindness.
- A time that you took a stand for someone or for an issue that you care about.
- A moment when you thought you might get hurt but didn’t.
- Breaking a bone (or otherwise suffering an injury).
- Your first time away from home for the night (or longer).
- A time when you experienced a historic event.
- Where you were when a major event happened. (Note: You don’t need to have been at the site of the event; this prompt is about where you were when you found out about the event and how you reacted.)
- A time when you rebelled against your parents or teacher.
- A dangerous experience.
- A misunderstanding between yourself and someone else.
- A difficult decision that you had to make.
- The end of a friendship or relationship.
- The beginning of a friendship or relationship.
- A time when you judged someone first and then realized that you were wrong about the person.
- A time when someone judged you first and then realized that he or she was wrong about you.
- A moment when you felt that you were starting to grow up.
- A time when you saw one or both of your parents in a different light.
- A time when you looked up to your older sibling.
- A time when your younger sibling looked up to you.
- A time when you were grateful to be an only child.
- An experience that you think has only ever happened to you!
Looking for more essay topics?
Compare and Contrast Essay Topics
Descriptive Essay Topics
Cause and Effect Essay Topics
Persuasive Essay and Speech Topics