Young children are just naturally curious about the world. The work of adults is to cultivate that curiosity into a lifelong love of learning. Photography is an excellent medium for cultivating curiosity into love of learning.
Whether pre-school, school age, or adult, photos hold a seemingly endless fascination for us all. They are some of the best ways that we learn about our history, our ancestry, and our world. Recognizing colors, numbers, or letters; beginning word recognition and reading are all important skills for children to develop. Eye and hand coordination, thinking and reasoning are qualities you will want your child to learn. Each of these skills and abilities can be enhanced and supported through photography!
Developing a “good eye” for photography will also help your child observe the world around them and encourage creativity and critical thinking.
What You’ll Need
You will need an inexpensive digital camera for your child. Another option is to repurpose an older cell phone that is equipped with a camera. Good quality photo paper or cardstock. A good printer linked to your home computer, or one that allows for the attachment of digital cameras or cell phones to download and print photos.
Where to Begin
Consider where you want to focus the learning. In what has your child shown curiosity lately? Is it numbers, letters, or colors identification? Is it counting or word recognition? This will give you a starting place for the project. Present it as fun and enjoyable, not a task or learning to complete. Children learn best when they don’t realize they are learning. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on numbers, although the same techniques can be successfully used for letters, words, and colors too.
Let’s Get Snappin’
This is a ten day project if you do one number each day. You could divide the day in half and do one in the morning and one in the afternoon. That would allow a five day shoot for ten numbers, or a ten day shoot for numbers. Try not to make the activity last too long, so that it doesn’t become a chore and boring to do. Let your child guide you in deciding how long to spend each time on the project.
On Day One, whatever photos the child takes should have ONE item in it as its focal point. It could be a bird, a leaf, a fruit or a vegetable, one footprint in sand, one eyeball (that’s always a crowd pleaser!) as long as it is only one.
Each day add one more number to the items for photographing. Maybe it will be two feet, or two stuffed animals, or two fingers. Whatever photos they take on Day Two will have TWO items in them. Continue each day in the same manner, until you have reached ten or whatever number you have chosen as the finish, advises William Schoellkopf. Because you will have lots of photos, it would be a good idea to have a computer file with the child’s name, and subfolders for each day.
Then This Happens
Take time with your child to review the photos for each day. Let the child choose one photo from each day that they believe best represents that day’s “theme”. Decide what, if any, text the child would like on each page, using the theme of the day. What will be on the cover of the book itself? There should be an author page with a date so you can remember when the project was done.
Decide the size of the book you will make. Will it be full pages of half pages? Print those chosen photos and assemble the book.
Set aside time for your child to share their book with family. Make it a special event. Refreshments and the child “reading” what they have done. You could even make extra copies for the young author-photographer to sign! Make memories. Plant your children firmly on the road of loving to learn and watch them grow!