Special Topics


by Esther Jantzen, guest poster

We can get lots of information from the pictures we see in ads, signs, books, billboards, and television. Often children don’t know the names for things they see. Naming things in pictures is a great way to build vocabulary.

Children enjoy being asked what they think about what they see. Just listen to their ideas, whether they are reasonable or not. It helps them develop thinking and observation skills. Here are some ways to do it:

1) When you open a book with pictures, have your children look first at the pictures before you read. Ask them to tell you what they see. Sometimes you can explore a whole book through pictures. Here are some ways you could ask questions:

  • What do you see here?
  • What might this story be about?
  • What is happening here?
  • What can you tell about characters from looking at their face or posture? 
  • Are they happy or sad? Angry or calm?
  • Would you like to be in this picture? 

2) Take a food wrapper that has a picture or illustration  like a bag from a fast-food restaurant, or a macaroni box, a canned good, or a cereal box. Ask the children what they see in the picture or on the box. Ask them to name the things in the picture on the box.

  • Does the picture make you want to eat what’s inside?
  • What colors are used in the picture?
  • Does this look like our house or our family?

Then compare several different labels or boxes.

  • Which boxes are most attractive?
  • Which do you like best?
  • See if there are people or animals in the pictures. Are those people smiling?
  • See if there are plants in the pictures. 
  • How are the pictures the same? How are they different?
  • What color is the lettering?
  • Can you tell what’s inside without reading the words?
  • What would you put on a box? 

3) Look out a window, any window, with a child. Pretend that what you see is a picture in a frame. Ask them to name 15 things they see out that window. This simple activity develops attention to detail and can help them in their own drawing or writing.

Send us your read a picture ideas!


Esther Jantzen, Ed.D, is a mother, an educator and the author of Plus It! How to Easily Turn Everyday Activities into Learning Adventures for Kids available at www.plusitbook.com and the Way to Go! Family Learning Journal available through www.jantzenbooks.com

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