I’m so excited to introduce you to one amazing woman who wears many hats! Beryl Young is a mom, teacher, photographer, and the brains behind the amazing Momtographie workshop. She’s here to share some great tips for helping kids experience, explore, and learn through photography. This is part one of a two-part series, so be sure to come back for more of her awesome advice! (And be sure to check out her FREE workshop listed below!)
In my previous life, before becoming a ‘photography coach for moms’ I was a public school teacher for 10 years. I spent 3 of those years in classrooms with Kindergarten and First graders and then spent another 7 years as a technology specialist for both students and staff.
In my final year working in a school, my favorite days were Mondays.
Mondays were photography club days. 10 bright eyed 5th graders would show up at my computer lab door after the school day was over for an hour of authentic learning and fun using a camera and editing software.
During the course of 8 weeks we gained self-confidence through shooting selfies, discussed light and movement and the science behind how a camera works, expressed creativity in photo stories, editing, and transformation, and we took scavenger hunts that tied in directly with classroom learning objectives.
The one thing I learned from the kids in my photography club was that it didn’t matter what the activity was that we did together, the camera was enough to keep them engaged in learning after a long school day.
The immediate visual feedback given from digital photography was a huge motivator and I saw them light up each time a new image showed itself on the camera’s playback screen.
With summer vacations quickly approaching I want to encourage you to continue your child’s learning through your own photo scavenger hunts this summer. The photo scavenger hunt is the perfect way to involve the whole family in a fun, simple, mess free project that can be adapted and tweaked in so many ways to fit the ages of your kids and their learning goals.
Today I am going to walk you through how to define the objective of your scavenger hunt project and encourage you to get started. In 2 weeks I’ll be back here again with several ideas and tutorials to get your photo scavenger hunt images off the camera and printed in a way that brings the learning full circle.
Let’s get planning (and snapping!).
1) Choose a learning objective
What would be the most fun and developmentally appropriate thing to hunt for with a camera? Is there a theme you’d like to embrace? Do you want to photograph the ABCs? Colors? Numbers? Shapes? Farm Animals? Historic Landmarks in your city? Foods? Rhyming Words? Opposites? Feel free to get creative with your hunt depending on the age and needs of your child.
Bonus points if you can make up a really creative story with you kids for WHY you need to go on this scavenger hunt.
Example: “We need to make an ABC book for your little sister so she can start learning her letters. Would you like to help me take pictures to fill her book?”
2) Create a shot list
Once you have chosen your objective, it’s time to sit with your child(ren) and brainstorm a list of possible photos you could take that fit your theme. If you are doing this project yourself to create something for a very young child, then take some solo time to make your own list. You may not find every photo you brainstorm and you might break away from this list if you find something else more compelling on your adventures but a list at least gives you a place to start.
I suggest starting with 25 items on your list. Bonus points if you have more than 25 items!
3) Find time to shoot
With a 25 item list you likely won’t finish your project in one session. Break your project into pieces to make it more manageable. If you are doing this project with your kids and giving them a chance to snap the photos, perhaps set aside time to find 5 items on the list per day. If you choose a project that involves more field trips to historic places or take more of a time investment perhaps you can try to go to one location or on one field trip per week.
4) Snap (high quality) images
Since we’re really trying to make this project into a special (and authentic) learning opportunity where we’ll print and share the photos when done, I highly recommend learning a bit about your camera and technical photography to get the best images possible. The fastest way you can do this is by seeking out good light. A camera is essentially a big light box and the more light you have available the faster your camera can click and the brighter your images will pop.
Turn off the flash and search for good natural light. If you’re taking photos indoors look for the rooms in your home that are well lit. This will change throughout the day as the sun moves. I take most of my photos in my foyer and dining room areas because the light in the afternoon is fantastic. Outdoors, especially when taking photos of your kids, you’ll want to be sure that YOU are looking into the sun as you take the photo. What this does is ensure that you eliminate harsh highlights and shadows from faces and will all help keep your subjects from having squinty eyes too.
If you’d like even more tips for snapping high quality images I’ve got a super special opportunity for you! I’ll be teaching a completely FREE week long class starting May 5th called, One Ingredient Fix: 7 days to take your photography from frustrating to fabulous. Register HERE , join in on the fun, and let’s get to snapping better photos together.
In 2 weeks I’ll be back to share some creative ways you can extend the learning of you scavenger hunt, print your photos, and make this project even more meaningful.
Kristin Bjorn says
Thanks for the great how-to on helping children learn through photography. As a follow-up, you can integrate writing with the photos. Children will often produce their best writing to go along with their photos or videos.
What a great idea, Kristin!
Definitely and AWESOME idea and I used to do this all the time with kids when I was a teacher. Thanks for this. 🙂
I’ve already joined your week long course. I’m very excited because my daughter loves taking pictures, she’ll sure benefit from this and I think we’ll both enjoy this experience.
YAY!! Hope you’re enjoying it. 🙂
As an early childhood educator who also happens to love photography, I’m really excited about this! I’ve seen how interested this generation is in technology and how engaged they can be with taking photos, so I love hearing your suggestions for turning it into an intentional learning experience. Thank you!