Saturday, June 14, 2014

Kid Photographers in the Classroom

I've known about kids's using cameras for a long time... like, I remember using Polaroids! Here's a five point report on more recent use!  Thanks to Doodle Bugs for the Five for Friday Link-up!

1.  Find one:  I admire the blogging teachers who talk about handing over their smart phones to kids to take pictures, but I know I would be too upset if a student broke a camera quite valuable to me.  I wanted a lower risk/lower responsibility option, and I wanted them to be able to use it on their own. What worked for me was a good scrounge through a bin of electronic stuff we had at home which unearthed an old family digital camera. It still focuses like a point and shoot, but doesn't zoom in or out any more. It is a bit bigger and chunkier than current cameras– perfect for little hands. If I hadn't come across it, I would have asked my kindergarten parents if they had an old one to donate. If your kids have access to ipads, then of course, you are all set, but our district doesn't have them yet.

2. Give it a home:  I went to the dollar store and found a brightly colored padded case for it– not a case I'd ever carry, but the kids love it. I wanted the camera to be easily accessible and in plain view, and our fireplace mantle turned out to be the perfect spot. (Yes, I have a "fireplace" in my classroom, but that's a post for later.) There's nothing else for kids to touch up there, which lowers the chances of it getting knocked off accidentally. Also, a quick glance tells if it is where it belongs– I don't want to lose it or have it kicking around the classroom.
Isn't that case a beauty– complete with sequins no less!
3. Make the rules short and sweet: You can take up to three pictures at a time in one day. When you've taken three it is someone else's turn, or you can put it back. Pretty simple, but it worked for all of us.

4. What I found:
• This was a hugely social activity! Tons of conversation, cooperation and sharing of the camera, and collaboration to get the best shot. I don't know of an activity that got kids more excited about working together. And I found it was not just the "usual" groups of kids. Everybody got involved and naturally worked with kids they might not have played with otherwise.
• Kids really did follow the three picture limit. Once they had the camera in their hands they took their three shots pretty quickly because it was so much fun to take the photos, which meant there wasn't any long term hogging.
• Kids take terrific pictures– shockingly so. I wish I could share with you here on the internet the great photos they took of each other. Up close and group shots with expressions and poses they might not have struck if I had been behind the camera. Some of them even ended up on our end-of-year DVD.
• I couldn't print many of the pictures because of cost, but knew it was important to share them. I found the easiest way for the photographers to see their work was to download to my laptop, and then take a look when I was hooked up to the projector.
• The kids loved seeing their own shots and what others took, too. They remembered who took them most of the time. It lead to terrific discussion about what is important to us.  There were lots of shots of each other,
Taken by a kidperson
shots of art and block creations,
Taken by a kidperson
and even shelves of materials, which kind of cracked me up... I mean, the shelf of sidewalk chalk?? When we looked at this particular picture the photographer said he took it because we hardly ever use it... beware guilt trips!
You never know what is important to them
Looking at the photos together also generated great tips on how to take a good pic.

• DO take a look at the photos before you show the kids though- one little kidperson caught another little kidperson cutting our tablecloth! The photo was not staged, but a caught in the act shot. It provided good talk between me and the guilty party, but I wouldn't have wanted the others to see it.

5. Next year I hope to expand our picture taking:
• I am going to get my hands on another camera.
• I am going to get more bang for the learning buck by providing cut pieces of cardstock to make labels and captions for their creations. They can prop the cards so they appear in the photos.
• I am going to do both individual and whole group writing based on the photos. I didn't do this this year because we got the camera late in the year, and because not everyone took photos on a regular basis.  Next year I'll pick a time to do a project and provide a checklist so that everyone takes at least three shots over a few days. We'll go through the shots and pick the one they want to print up. Then we'll write while the picture taking is still fresh in mind.

Hope this post provides inspiration! You have a whole summer to mull over how you are going to get your hands on a camera and put it to good use in your classroom. I highly recommend it!

Now head on back for more great ideas in Five for Friday!

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  1. Kathleen, I LOVE that idea of the classroom camera! We have iPads in our classroom, but I like the camera better. It gives them some boundaries and they have to share that camera. It is probably like opening a present when you see what is on there. I know my kids always want me to take pictures of their creations (blocks, Legos) before they have to take them apart. This would be wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing!
    Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together

  2. Well, that's saying something if you think you could use cameras when you have iPads. I guess they would have different uses at different times. Well, it's cheap to give it a try... let me know how it goes.

  3. Love the case - think I'll be on the lookout for some cases now; I haven't used them before.

    Math is Elementary

    1. Hope they work for you, too! Thanks for sharing. Kathleen


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