A simple camera can help a child take a closer look at his environment, capture a sequence of events (such as the various stages of plant growth), add fun and excitement to classroom events, and motivate conversation. It will also allow you to keep a visual record of children's growth and progress and share that progress with families. Let's explore some ways you can use photography in your own classroom.

Using Cameras in the Classroom

  • Take an old camera and put it in the dress-up area. Children love to pretend to take each other's pictures. A look through the viewfinder gives children a different way of looking at the world-and at themselves!
  • Cameras are wonderful for making class books. Children can take photos of one another and combine these with their own self-portrait drawings. The photos and drawings can be placed side by side in photo albums to create a mirror-like two-page spread for each child. Children can dictate captions to accompany the photos and drawings.
  • Picture dictionaries fascinate children who are just learning to read and write. Why not use a camera to create one for the class? Children can take pictures of things in the school environment, outdoors, even on trips. These photos can be glued into a scrapbook or on index cards with the word for each object clearly printed below. When children want to write about the school, the trip, the current class theme, all they have to do is find the picture of the object and write the word for it.
  • Cameras can be incredibly useful for helping children "immortalize" their projects. For example, if you have a child who has constructed the Eiffel Tower out of blocks and doesn't want to see it taken apart when it's time to clean up, you can snap a picture of it. You can display these photos to celebrate children's creations.
  • Cameras are great for documenting field trips. Try to snap pictures of things that children point out or talk about as particularly interesting to them. Later, display the photos and let children provide their own dictated captions.
  • A fun activity is to give a disposable camera to a child to take home for a weekend or to take on vacation. This is a great way for you to learn more about the child's experiences away from school, for children to learn more about their classmates' experiences, and for the child to take a "closer look" at her own environment.
  • Use a video camera to make a film about A Day in the Life of Our Classroom. Capture the activities children are involved in. Record sequences of the different events of the day from arrival to departure. Conduct "interviews" with the children, inviting them to share stories about their favorite activities. Show the video to parents at an Open House as an engaging introduction to your program. They won't stop watching and listening if their child is in the video! Also show the video periodically to the children to demonstrate how they have grown and changed over time. In fact, you might want to create several "sequels" to this video throughout the year as a vivid and visually active "portfolio" for the entire classroom!