When Noodle was about 3 years old, we bought her a VTech Kidizoom Camera for Christmas. She loves it. It doesn’t take the best photos, but for a toddler who’s just playing photographer, it’s perfect. It’s rugged, which is good because it was dropped repeatedly. When she was 5, Grandma Debbie (my mom) bought her a Disney Princes Camera which has been a nice transition to a more common camera style. Noodle loves them both and has recently taken an interest in photography … at least as much interest a 7 year-old can take. She has even started asking about “film cameras”, which has led us into some interesting explanations and conversations about 35mm and Polaroid cameras!
Needless to say, her interest has spurred a summer project that will help her develop photography skills as well enhance her creative skills and writing ability. She’s wrapping up her first grade year, so writing is a skill she’s just now learning. This project will give her a chance to practice spelling and writing over the summer … but don’t tell her!
Photo Journal Project Plan
Noodle and I had a long conversation about everything we want to do this summer … pick strawberries, visit local orchards, visit the zoo (a lot!), take a few weekend get-a-way trips, etc. She even wants to learn to cook so she can “work in a restaurant” when she grows up. Her words, not mine! She has taken an interest in my market-fresh veggie cookbook!
Then we decided that she could take pictures on all of our adventures and keep a photo journal … I had to explain what that is. She was so excited that the idea nearly trumped the dance trophy she got for 1st place group at a recent competition (her class got their trophies after practice last night!).
Photo Journal Project Materials
Camera: I’ll let her use her kid cameras, but I plan to encourage her to use one of my many spares laying around that take better photos. If you don’t have a spare, an inexpensive digital camera that belongs only to your kiddo is a a good idea. MPG suggested her iPod or my old iPhone, but I’d rather she get a handle on a real camera as part of the learning component to this project. Incidentally, she doesn’t realize ANY of this is learning. It’s all fun for her.
Photo Album: I’ve selected this cute C.R. Gibson Photo Album to keep photos in.
Noodle loves flowers, so the design is perfect. It has a CD pocket in the back, so I’ll eventually put all the pictures she takes on CD or DVD for safe keeping. I also love the interior design. We can print 4×6 photos, slide them in the pockets, then she can write a few words about the trek and each photo. Perfect!
Photo Printer: I have an HP Photosmart Printer that I absolutely love. It was a Christmas gift, but I’ll admit there might be less expensive option. This one, however, prints fabulously and served a definite purpose when Noodle was little. Of course, you’ll need photo paper and printer ink if you go this route. Printing photos at a local retailer or via a website like Shutterfly might be a better option for you.
Permanent Marker: I am going this route because Noodle loves Sharpies! I also think the ink will last longer than a regular pen. Now that they come in different colors, she can choose based on her mood at the time. Again, perfect for her.
Work Station: Since I’m a geek, I always have spare gadgets laying around, so it’s easy for me to set up a Noodle work station. This might take on a different form for you. For us, it’s an old laptop set up with basic photo editing software like Pixlr or Picassa (both are free), the printer and space for her to work with the photo album. I might also just set up a little extra space near my main computer. Either way, it’s important space be designated for her to work on this. Kiddos, like Noodle, who have ADHD need those parameters.
Ground Rules: I don’t have many, but Noodle has a tendency to color all over anything she can get her hands on. As a result, the album and markers will come out only when we’re working on placing photos in the album.
Who’s more excited?
I’m not sure who is more excited, me or Noodle. I love my cameras, which is probably why she’s taken an interest all of a sudden. What I love most is that we have a constructive and fun project to work on over the summer. The educational components are just as important to me as the fun factor. Anything we can do to help our kids build skills only benefits them more in the long run!
Let me know if you plan to do something like this with your kiddos over the summer! We can trade adventure photos!