Writing with Pictures & Words on the Computer

Rebus writing is one way to make sentences without words or with words and pictures together! Similar Word Card and Sentence Strip activities can be created on the computer. Children are motivated by computers; they find them motivating and easy to use. There are several software programs that offer the ability to write with Word/Picture combinations. Look for programs that also speak the sentence!

Remember to give the student time to learn the software before focusing on writing activities. Make sure they know how to use the software program, the keyboard commands and have a successful method of "pointing and clicking".

We will explore the features of Clicker 4 to create a grid similar to the word cards examples using pictures with word labels. You can download a trial version or take a Clicker tour at their website.

In Clicker 4, the student creates a sentence simply by clicking on the word/pictures in the grid in various sequences; she can also type in letters/words that she knows. This software also provides text-to-speech capability where he can hear what he has written in his own words, then hear the sentence re-read over and over again- great for reinforcing writing and also for early editors. Grids are easy to create and change; plus the programs comes with many templates with writing ideas. Included are talking story books, sorting activities and rhymes.


Who would use Clicker 4?

  • Students who need to build sentences using a limited vocabulary; they can listen to the words before writing.
  • Everything typed can be read by the computer; student and teacher voices can also be recorded.
  • Students who benefit from hearing the writing read back.
  • Students learning other languages who will benefit from word banks, pictures and sound.
  • Students needing access to talking word banks; 1,000 graphics are included and others can be imported.
  • Students needing an on-screen talking dictionary for spelling support.
  • Students who need a picture or symbol dictionary.
  • Students unable to use a mouse or keyboard and require switch access to their computer.
  • Grids can be almost any size cells; they can even branch to new grids and are very easy to edit.
  • To begin to transition a student from pictures to mainly words, alter the size of the picture to word ratio; make the picture smaller and the word larger.



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In the Humpty Dumpty example, a limited number of familiar words are offered without associated pictures. The graphics provide picture cues as does the speaker button which plays the rhyme when it is clicked.


Clicker Grid Resources:
Clicker Grids for Learning
This site offers a growing bank of ready-to-use downloadable grids for Macs and PC's. This free service is for teachers and other users of Clicker 4.

Clicker 4 - from the Thomas Wosley School in Suffolk, England (Flash, Non Flash) The outreach project at this UK school provides a series of tutorials for using Clicker 4.

Other Software Programs:
There are other software programs that combine pictures with words for writing activities. We have listed some below:


Find out more about these and other programs designed for "Beginning Writers"
ATTO Favorite Writing Programs
ATTO Favorite Writing Programs Listing (pdf)