SET UP A PHOTO STUDIO

Help children find a quiet area. As you think about supplies, consider a low bulletin board and tables and chairs for work space. Here are some ways to use the space, depending on children's interests:

SAY CHEESE!

Display a variety of photographic portraits and books with portraits. Offer youngsters mural paper to use for backdrops; props such as hats, flowers, jewelry, and so on; an unbreakable mirror; and a camera. Talk about what's involved in taking pictures of people and encourage those who would like to give it a shot! Encourage children to try painting or drawing self-portraits or portraits of friends to compare with photographic images.

REAL IMAGING

Display posters and children's books with photographs of specific objects, such as Shoes, Shoes, Shoes by Ann Morris (Lothrop, Lee & Shephard) or, by the same author, Bread, Bread, Bread (Mulberry Books). Encourage children to observe lines, colors, textures, forms, shapes, and patterns in the pictures and then arrange objects of their own choosing (blocks, toys, crayons). They can take a series of photos to create their own themed books or posters for The Gallery (see "Come to The Gallery," at right).

LIGHT PICTURES

Set out sheets of light-sensitive paper and interesting objects with instructions to use a sunny window. Let them experiment, arranging items on the paper and leaving them in the sunlight for a day or two. What happens? How has the sun served as a camera? (No window available? Position items on dark or brightly colored construction paper and place under a desk lamp for a few days.)

PHOTO INSPIRATION

Display beautiful, exciting, and dramatic posters. Invite children to dictate or use inventive spelling to express their feelings about and visual interpretations of what they see.

COME TO THE GALLERY

What is a gallery? What happens there? Together, create a space where children can display their photographs and others they like. Brainstorm other components children would like to include: special lighting, mat and frame making, a special exhibition of specific kinds of photographs, and so on.

This article originally appeared in the March, 1999 issue of Early Childhood Today.