Children are born photographers. They take pictures of things that make them happy. And this is a fundamental of any artistic endeavor. If your kid is curious about cameras and taking pictures, there are a number of photo-themed projects perfect for that summer day or two when you can’t figure out what to do with them.
Recently, I’ve become interested in teaching photography to kids through projects that encourages self-expression, critical thinking, and an awareness of the visual world around them, while also stimulating a love for reading and writing. What more could you ask for from a fun, hands-on photo project?!
Here’s a few you can try with your kids this summer:
Home Alphabet Photo Book
This project can be done with a point-and-shoot camera or even a smart phone. Begin by displaying a deck of alphabet cards. (You can find these at most dollar stores). Then tell your kid you’re both going on a photo tour of the favourite things in your home. Ask her to take one picture that represents each of the letters in the alphabet. For example, the letter ‘M’ could stand for Mom. If so, have her take a photo of you. The letter ‘B’ for stand for Bedroom, and so on. Once you’re done, print our her photos illustrating A to Z. The ideal size for the prints is 4×6. Take your prints and gluestick each one onto a separate 5×7 flash card. When you’ve completed all the cards, have your child write the letter represented and the word the photo illustrates on the back of the card. For example on your ‘M’ card, she could write, “M is for Mom.” This is a great exercise for beginner readers. Punch two holes on each card where you can bind your them together to make a booklet your kid will be proud to show off! This project can spaced over a few days, or be done as an activity a couple of times a week until completed.
When I Grow up I Want To Be A…
This project encourages kids to envision what they will look like in their chosen dream job or career. Begin by having a conversation about what he’d like to be when he grows up. Ask a lot of questions: What will you look like? What will you be doing? Why are you happy? How will you make money? Once your child has decided on his occupation, you’ll need to take a photo of him in a pose that reflects his job. For example, I taught one little boy who wanted to be a bird watcher, so I had him pretend to be holding a pair of binoculars as he looked up into the sky. Don’t worry about your background because once you have your print, you’ll need to cut out the image of your child. Have him paste his cut-out into the middle of a white mat board sized no larger than 11×14. The flip through old magazines and help him cut out anything that will help illustrate his job. Try to fill in as much of the white space on the board as possible. Take your time and talk to your kid along the way, he’ll need a bit of help. Once his collage is complete, have him write a few short sentences about why he loves what he’s doing. Type his sentences onto a piece of paper, and then cut them into strips. Have your child assemble and paste the sentences onto his board. Oila! A keepsake he’ll enjoy having 20 years from now.
This project is similar to the one above, but this time your child will use his own photos to illustrate a favourite poem. Before taking any photos, begin by introducing your child to poetry books. Read a few each night for a week or so before asking your child to consider writing his own poem. This may take a bit of time, but once he’s written his poem, he’s ready to take some photos. For example, if his poem is about a dragon, you could take a trip to Chinatown, and snap a few symbols of dragons you’re sure to find there. Once your kid has his poem and photos ready, ask him to hand write his poem onto an 8×10 mat board. Then, have him think about how he can best assemble his photos around his poem to create an imaginative display of words and images. Once he’s sure how he would like it to look he can then paste the photos to the board. Have extra photos and mat boards handy in case he makes a mistake.
Remember, these projects can be done slowly throughout the summer, on a rainy day, when your child protest that he’s bored, or simply when you have the time. These are projects that encourage a fair bit of communication between you and your kid, so have fun and enjoy their insightful, imaginative comments and their dreams for the future.
Get snapping and have a wonderful summer!