Picture Stories: Main Ideas and Evidence

a black and white picture story showing a woman with a stressful life

Purpose:  to give learners practice identifying the main idea and retelling key details

Preparation Time:  15 minutes

Materials Needed:  sets of picture stories, cut apart


  1. Pass out the picture stories. The stories should be 3-8 pictures that can be put into order to tell a story. You can find examples of health picture stories at http://www.cal.org/caela/esl_resources/Health/healthindex.html , use a children's picture book, or create your own using google images.
  2. For higher level classes, have the learners work together in small groups to put the picture stories in order. Stress that there is not one right answer, the stories just have to make sense. For lower level classes, show one picture from the story at a time on the overhead. Talk about what the learners see as a whole class. After going through all of the pictures, ask them which picture is first, second, third, etc.
  3. Once the stories are ordered, ask the class to come up with a sentence or phrase that represents the main idea of the story. Write the ideas on the board, and then decide as a class which one is the best.
  4. In their small groups, have the learners take turns retelling the story. They should point to the pictures as they explain what is happening in them.
  5. Have a volunteer come up to the front of the class and retell the story for the whole group.

This activity addresses College and Career Readiness Standard Reading Anchor 2, Level A.

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