Describing Pictures


  • To describe a picture or tell a story based on a picture
  • To build vocabulary


story picture
describe     where
who what

Literature Suggestion
Read Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, or any book in which the pictures show the story's action.

  • Ask children to talk about their favorite animals.
  • Encourage them to tell what they like about particular animals or to relate stories about them.


  • Introduce the book. Point out the title and the author's name.
  • Leaf through the pages and remind children that books can use both pictures and words to tell a story.
  • Explain that the children will guess what happens in this story before you read the book, by talking about the pictures.
  • Go through the book, one page or picture at a time. At each picture, ask children to describe the picture. Ask them to name the people, animals, and other objects in the picture, as well as the action taking place.
  • If any child is having difficulty, gently prompt the child using "who, what, where, why, and how" questions. For example: What is the gorilla doing in this picture? Why is he frowning?
  • Go through the book again, this time reading the words to the story. Ask children to talk about why the story was funny.
  • To encourage the children to express themselves, avoid questions that can be answered with yes or no.

Put animal stickers on sheets of paper and ask children to draw the animals' homes (such as tall grass, trees, or water) around the sticker. Encourage volunteers to tell about their pictures.

Observation Assessment

  • Proficient - Child clearly says a sentence or two about a picture, naming objects and describing characters, as well as explaining what is happening in the picture.
  • In Process - Child tries to talk about the picture, but gets distracted and starts to talk about other things or starts to mumble, making it difficult for most people to understand.
  • Not Yet Ready - Child does not yet focus on the picture, does not yet attempt to describe a picture, or speaks inaudibly.

Excerpted from School Readiness Activity Cards. The Preschool Activity Cards provide engaging and purposeful experiences that develop language, literacy, and math skills for preschool children.

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