5 ways of using Images in the Classroom

Pictures can pack a powerful punch and they can be a very handy tool for use in the classroom. Here are five different ways of using them:


  • Choose a selection of images from the ELTtpics idioms collection.
  • Write out the corresponding idioms on separate pieces of paper and attach these to the classroom walls.
  • Put your learners in groups and give each group a few images to look at.
  • Each group should walk around the classroom, look at the idioms on the classroom walls and stick each picture they were given with the idiom that they think goes with it.
  • Form new groups, each consisting of two of the previous groups and give the learners time to explain their choices to the members of the other previous group.
  • Idioms are often used as a means of evaluating a situation or a story. Ask learners to think what kinds of situations could be evaluated using their idioms. Ask learners to think of a story that could be evaluated using their idioms. This could be of their own creation or a story/fairytale/myth/folktale of English or L1 background.
  • Do a mingle, allowing learners to tell their stories, using idioms to evaluate them. Give them a purpose such as deciding which story they hear is a)the funniest  b)the most interesting c)a superlative of their own choice


  • Find some interesting pictures, with lots going on in them.
  • Put learners in groups and give each group a different picture.
  • Ask learners to discuss what’s happening in the picture.
  • Ask learners to think about who the people in the picture are. Learners should give them names, personalities etc.
  • Ask learners to think about what happened before the picture was taken and what happened after the picture was taken. Encourage creativity.
  • Get the learners to turn their responses to the above three bullet points into a short skit.
  • Give learners the opportunity to perform their skit for the rest of the class to watch.


  • Find some interesting pictures, with lots going on in them.
  • Put learners in groups and give each group a different picture.
  • Ask each group in turn to use themselves and anything else in the room (except other people) to make a tableau of the picture.
  • The other learners should then be given a few minutes to discuss what might be happening in the tableau and turn it into a short story.
  • Each group tells their short story to the tableau group.
  • The tableau group get to choose which story of their tableau they like best.
  • Optional writing activity could be done as a follow up.


  • Gather a fairly substantial number of pictures together.
  • Put learners in groups and give each group a reasonable number of pictures.
  • Ask learners to look at all their pictures and think of a way to categorise them.
  • Learners should discuss what the categories should be as well as which pictures should belong to which category and why.
  • Once learners have finished doing the above, gather all learners around each table in turn and let the group whose table it is explain how they categorised their pictures. The other learners can make suggestions for how else the pictures could have been categorised.


  • Give each learner a different picture. (Pictures should have people in them)
  • Put the learners in pairs
  • Each learner should take it in turns to tell their partner about their picture as though they are the person or one of the people in it. They will need to talk about what’s happening in the picture, why it was happening, why it was photographed/painted/drawn and why it’s special to them.
  • Do a mingle activity where learners start by telling their story (repeating roughly what they talked about in the above bullet point) and then have the opportunity to steal their partner’s story and tell that to somebody else. Each time they hear a story they prefer to the one they’ve been telling, they steal it and tell it.
  • When this has been done a handful of times, get learners to establish whose stories are still being told.
  • You could use this activity in conjunction with a lesson on storytelling (using structural language, evaluative language, responding appropriately etc)

Let me know how it goes if you use any of these activities, either by commenting on this post or letting me know if you’d like to do a guest post about it. If you have other ideas for using pictures or for adding to the above ideas, feel free to share them by commenting – the more the merrier!



One thought on “5 ways of using Images in the Classroom

  1. Great! This year, I don’t have any technology in the classroom which has led me to resort to using pictures so these variations and ideas are going to be very useful during this final push towards the end of the term. Keep up the good work.

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