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Teachers: Literacy: Text

Last Updated: Tuesday April 04 2006 08:55 GMT

Picture captions

A man sitting next to a metal bear
Different people read news stories in different ways. Some people start at the top and read each word until the end. Others look at the pictures and read the captions.

Students have a go at the Newsround caption competition and write captions for a picture gallery of recent news.

Learning aims

By the end of the lesson, students should have a deeper understanding of:

  • What constitutes a good caption
  • The relationship between photographs and captions


Caption competition

Print out copies of this caption competition and distribute them to the class.

Students individually jot down:

  • Words and ideas connected with the picture
  • Complete captions (if they already have one)
This activity can be done in silence and only requires a few minutes.

In small groups, students review their notes and compile a caption which incorporates the group's best ideas.

Each group presents their caption to the rest of the class.

They can also submit their captions online.

Match and mismatch

Students look at last week's winning entries.

Ask the group: What makes them funny?

Explain to students that these captions are comical because they don't match what is really happening.

The Newsround caption competition is light-hearted but normal captions match what is happening in a picture.

Main activity

Picture gallery of news

Whale with rescuers

Show students this recent news picture gallery.

Ask the group:

  • How do the captions match each picture?
  • What do the captions add to each picture?
Explain to students that they are going to put together a picture gallery like the Newsround one.

Print out a selection of recent Newsround stories to use later in the lesson.

Print out and distribute a selection of pictures from these stories.

Right click when the cursor is over the picture and select the Print picture option.

Underneath their picture, students write a caption, based on:

  • Their knowledge of the news event
  • What they can see in the picture
Now distribute the matching stories.

After reading the story, students write a new caption underneath the first.

Extension activity

In groups, students decide on the order of the photographs in the news picture gallery.

Ask them to think about:

  • Which picture grabs people's attention? This might make a good opening photograph.
  • Which picture would make a good ending to the gallery?

Students compare their first and second drafts of each caption.

Ask the group: Ho does your second caption improve upon your first?

Each student completes the sentence: A good caption should...

Draw up a class list of their suggestions

See Teachers' background below for some ideas.

Teachers' background

Press Pack Club caption tutorial

Check out this educational game, quiz and printable guide about using pictures to tell a story on the Press Pack website.

A good caption should:

  • Add a detail the reader wouldn't know by looking at the photograph
  • Grab people's attention
  • Inform people who is in the picture and what is happening. If it's important for the story, it should also inform the reader where and when the picture was taken.
  • Make it clear who is who by adding positions e.g. left, front, centre
  • Explain the connection between the photograph and the news event
  • Usually be written in the present tense
  • Be written in complete sentences
  • Be succinct. One or two sentences is about the right length. You can put other information in the body of the article.
A good caption should NOT:
  • Be lines taken from the news story
Curriculum relevance

Key stage 3 English National Curriculum, En3 Writing

1f. Use formal and impersonal language and concise expression
1g. Consider what the reader needs to know and include relevant details
1h. Present material clearly, using appropriate layout, illustrations and organisation
2a. Draft and redraft
9b. The range of purposes for writing should include: To inform, explain and describe, focusing on conveying information and ideas clearly.

For hundreds more news-based stories, click on Teachers on the left-hand side.

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