Picture Walk

Picture Tour, Picture Preview

UDL 3.1 UDL 3.3

A picture walk is a pre-reading strategy where the teacher guides students through the pictures in a text. The teacher begins with the cover of a book and examines the cover art. Using the cover art, the teacher can prompt the class or a small reading group to make predictions about what the title means, and continue to make predictions as the teacher and students look through the pages. The teacher discusses with students what they notice in the illustrations, making note of setting and characters. As the teacher moves through the illustrations, the teacher gets the students to notice differences in the characters, based on what they see. In particular, the emotions displayed on character faces or changes in action and setting. This sets up a story in students’ minds before reading of the text begins, allowing for an opportunity to preview and activate prior knowledge to deepen the reading of the text that follows.

Ready-to-Use Resources

Planning Guide

Picture Walk Planning Guide

A teacher planning guide for picture walks.The guide can be used for planning talking points before previewing illustrations for both fiction and nonfiction texts.

Grade K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 · English Language Arts, Reading · 1 pages

Graphic Organizer

Picture Walk Graphic Organizer

A student graphic organizer for picture walks. Students can use the graphic organizer to record ideas during a group picture walk or while reading independently.

Grade K, 1, 2, 3 · Reading · 1 pages

Implementation Tips

For whole class read-alouds in early elementary classrooms, select big books or project the text using a document camera so students are able to clearly see the pictures.
Text Selection
Choose texts that offer pictures or illustrations that will lend themselves for rich predictions and storytelling. For example, texts with detailed character faces or the have enough pictures to make up a beginning, middle and end.
Culturally Responsive Text Selection
When working with ELL students, pick texts that offer representations that are familiar to them.
What to Focus on During Picture Walk
When working with emerging readers, ask questions about what they think could be occurring in the picture. When discussing the text, use vocabulary that comes directly from the text.


When working with ELL students individually or in groups, use picture walks as a time to point to parts of the pictures to introduce new vocabulary and connect it to the student’s native language. For example, when reading a fairy tale you might point to familiar images such as a princess or castle or tree and ask them what the word is in their native language. Then you would say the word in English and chart the word up onto a word wall.
ELA - Read Aloud
During the read aloud portion of a literacy block, use a picture walk to introduce a read aloud text to the class. Use this as a time to also model making predictions based on the title and cover art.
ELA - Guided Reading
In reading groups, introduce a new text using a picture walk. Give students ample chances to point out familiar representations they see of emotions, objects and places in a group discussion. Use this time to also point out any unfamiliar representations they might encounter in the illustrations.

Related Strategies