Picture Walk to Talk the Talk

Believe it or not, it is what you do before reading that can help build a student's overall comprehension of a book and build vocabulary, rather than focussing on what comes after the reading.

The picture walk strategy is a great activity you can do before reading the book and it generates great oral language and vocabulary.

A picture walk is when the teacher, or parent ‘walk’ through the pictures of a story page-by-page and ‘read’ the pictures. The adult then asks prompting questions to provoke conversations. This strategy is a great way to familiarise the reader with the book before they read the text. In ‘reading’ the pictures, students examine the clues they can see. These may be facial expressions, body language, objects or events etc.

There are many benefits for students when experiencing picture walks:

  • The reader can  make connections to their own ideas and experiences.

  • Discussions help students gain new vocabulary prior to reading.

  • Improves comprehension and overall understanding.

  • Increases interest and engagement in the story.

  • Teaches the student about the different parts of the book and the type of book it is. Fiction or non-fiction. Procedure, reports, play, poem, story etc.

  • Gives the student a better idea of what the book will be about.

  • Provides chances to make predictions of what might happen in the reading.

  • Students learn that pictures can be used as clues to understand what is happening in the story.

  • Gives insight into students being able to recognise facial expressions and body language through the pictures.

Room 1 learning has been focussed around starting our reading sessions with picture walks, and we are finding that they help a lot with the skills and experiences listed above. Reading picture clues such as expressions and body language has become easier for many students and the discussions, about the stories and articles, flow more freely. 

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The animals look sad and terrified of Bobo, look at the faces. Plus they are all swimming away from him, Carys.

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Bobo is a bully and has a mean face, the fish are scared. Brooke.

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The fish are ignoring Bobo and telling him to go away. I think he is upset because the fish aren’t swimming away from him any more and they are standing up for themselves. Indie.

Sharing of ideas and opinions is more easily accepted, and students are showing a willingness to listen to others. In the reading of the text, the vocabulary that is used in the picture walk discussions is then applied to the reading and helps with decoding and understanding of what the author is trying to say.

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Question - Looking at this page, what do you think the characters are like?   

This one by the wall is mean. He has a grumpy face and his arms are folded. He is giving the boys a mean look. Zayn

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This group of boys are friends, and they are looking at the game. One of them has seen the boy with the red hair and is scared, Lily

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Question - What do you think is happening on this page?

This boy with the red hair is going to be mean to the boys with the game. He has his hands in fists and is going to the other boys, Violet.

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The boys haven’t seen the boy with the red hair coming and are busy with their game, Alex.

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Question - How are the boys feeling?

The boy with the glasses is scared of the bigger boy. He looks worried because his game has been taken, Violet.

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I think the big boy feels strong and cool, but he is really being mean, Lily

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Question - How are the boys feeling now?

The boy with the red hair has been told off and is walking away, the boys on the bus are happy to have the game back, Izak

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I think that the boys are relieved that they have their game back and that the other boy isn’t on the bus anymore, Violet.

This has been a great reading strategy to implement into the classroom. The success, confidence and engagement of the students is a testament to the power of this strategy.

Curriculum Links: English - Speaking, Presenting, Reading

Keywords: Picture Walk, Reading strategies, vocabulary, literacy, reading

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