Picture Story


1. SS work in pairs or small groups and think up a 6-sentence short story based on the topic.

2. SS draw the story in 6 parts on 6 small pieces of paper – one set of pictures for each pair or group.

3. SS swap their story with another team, who receive the pieces of paper in mixed-up order.

4. Each team has to put the pieces of the new picture story they have received into order.

5. SS discuss and write the new story in present continuous form (where possible!) – what is happening in each picture now?

6. SS discuss and write the new story in past simple form – what happened in each picture?

7. SS discuss and write the new story with future forms – what will/is going to happen in each picture?

8. Group feedback – T asks some or all of the pairs or groups to read their new stories aloud and show the pictures. Or, T asks SS from one group to come up to the board and write the story in the correct order (in a given tense). T elicits corrections and improvements from the whole class.


  • From this activity, SS could move smoothly into a text reduction activity (p.47), making questions (p.61), Stress, Reduce, Merge (from p.69), or more free practice activities, e.g. role play (p.84).
  • Variation: T plans the 6-sentence story and reads each sentence to the whole class – but out of sequence. SS have to draw a picture for each sentence, and then put the pictures into order to show what happened. Then they follow stages 5-8 above. Here is an example of a 6-sentence story on the topic of The Environment:

1. Man sees the price of petrol and thinks about weird weather/global warming.
2. Man decides to sell his car and start using public transport.
3. He tells his wife. She tells him: “Do it and I’m leaving you!”
4. He buys a bike and gives his car to his wife.
5. His wife crashes it into a recycling bin.
6. She buys a bike too and they both ride together.

  • T could encourage SS to include humour. The best stories will have a satisfying twist in the final sentence.
  • The more sentences and pictures that SS have to do, the longer the activity will last – and vice versa.
  • If SS complain that they cannot draw, T encourages them that the pictures do not have to works of art, but simply tell the story.
  • Instead of writing in different tenses in stages 5-7, SS could simply write the new story in the way that they prefer. This would be better if there is less time available.
  • See also You Are The Course Book 2: In Practice, pp.193-194, 224, 389, 419.