How can the digital camera be used to support children's play, learning and development? Please add information in the categories below, and use the "Discussions" tab for "behind the scenes" discussions.


Type of Camera? Adult or Child's? Pros? Cons?


Adult cameras:
Pros- the camera resolution/sharpness of picture is better on most adult cameras. Might be able to get donations of digital cameras when families "upgrade."
Cons- Camera is not "child-proofed" so need to be aware of safety issues such as access to batteries, etc.

Cameras for children:
Pros-specially designed for young children to be durable, safe.
Cons-can be hard to get to/replace batteries, can be heavy and harder to hold for some children, poor resolution, some include additional features/games which may distract, for those looking to use this for taking photos only.

Neither: We use an Argus Bean camera. It is 5 mp and the oddest shape, oval with rubberized coating so that it is more of an outdoors camera than a kids' camera. They cost $50 but Best Buy has been closing them out for $30. They take still photos and videos and are rechargeable plus you can use an SD card in them so that while the internal memory will hold 22 photos, th card will allow you to expand that. Thanks to Bonnie's article in Young Children encouraging this, we arranged it so that each child (15) has their own camera.

Camera Suggestion:
I taught a digital storytelling workshop last summer and purchased Global Trekker cameras for all of the participants (grades 5- 11). They were 12 dollars a piece. We had to purchase batteries and SD cards separately. I also gave one of these cameras to my friend who is only 4 years old. He had the best time taking pictures with it. The pictures have a strange output - almost dream like, with soft edges. Being able to look at photos of the party that he went to the night before was a wonderful activity and has become an ongoing conversation.

Displaying of photos: We got a 15" digital frame to put up and I put all of the photos from all kids onto one card and then put that onto the digital frame and display that for parents at holiday time or graduation time. Last year we had a job of "photo journalist" who would pick their favorite photo that they took that day and I would include that on the daily newsletter that we displayed via the wiki. Since this is preschool, it didn't work that well and parents haven't quite gotten used to the wiki (after several years of hard copy newsletters) but I do feel that it would work well with perhaps older young children.


Classroom activities

Social Stories- involve children in the creation of social stories, to provide guidance during social situations. Products might be simple, such as a simple poster and story, or more involved, with several stories in a book format. Here is a book example, "The Social Skills Picture Book" and article that provides suggestions on how to create a social story Using Social Stories to Ease Children's Transition

Mathematics--with each child having their own camera, we numbered each camera and then put them into a case area and the children now use number recognition, finding THEIR camera. This allows them to use number recogition, responsibility, social skills. Also they can go on a scavenger hunt for shapes around the room.

Social Development--we have the kids go around taking photos of their favorite areas of play, pictures of people in the school, AFTER they ask the person if they can take a photo of them (no one can claim anyone in our preschool to be paparrazzi).

Language Arts--they take their cameras and go around and look for letters around the room in scavenger hunt form. We can a couple of children make their bodies into the shape of a letter and the other takes a photograph.

Supporting camera use and language development; articles that may inspire variations which can include the child as photographer/videographer.
Using the Digital Camera to Support the Language Development of a Child with Autism

Photo book ideas that may inspire children's own photo book ideas or variations:
The Best Part of me by Wendy Ewald
Look Book and other books by Tana Hoban

Research articles, books related to this topic. Recommended resources...
I Wanna Take Me a Picture by Wendy Ewald
Picture Science: Using Photography to Teach Young Children by Carla Neumann-Hinds
Telling Stories with Photo Essays by Susan Conklin Thompson and Kayenta Williams
Young Photographers: Can 4-Year-Olds Use a Digital Camera as a Tool for Learning? An Investigation in Progress