Photo Credit: JayRaz via Flickr, CCL 2013
Photography is a powerful medium that motivates children and easily connects to writing. Kids love to take photos and see themselves featured in books. Additionally, the photos themselves offer a powerful scaffold for writing as the content is already suggested by the image.
Here are two simple and engaging projects that will introduce photography to your students.
This is a visual record of the school day.
1- Take photos of the major moments in your school day. (Mostly candids.) For example, snap a shot of kids unpacking in the morning, participating in morning meeting, engaged in literacy stations, checking our books from the library, eating lunch in the cafeteria, playing at recess, using math manipulatives, etc. *If possible, let your students take the photos! iPads are great for this.
2- Print the photos and then assign one or two to each student. Tell them their job is to caption the photo for a class book that will be shared with their parents. Model first with your own example photo. If you teach young children, you might only expect a sentence or two that tells what is happening in the picture. i.e.- “We are at recess. Jim and Terrence are swinging.”
However, if you teach older children, you might be looking for a paragraph that not only captions the photo but also provides information about that block of the school day. i.e.- “At 1:25 we go outside for recess. In the photo above, Andrea, Tina, and CeCe are swinging. Some kids play soccer or tag. There are also monkey bars and four-square courts. Most kids in 5th grade really enjoy being outside and spending time with friends.”
Modeling is the key to success. Once your students have captioned their images, assemble them into a book by pasting the photos and related text on the same page. (Or adjoining pages.) You can choose any binding method to assemble the book.
This would be a great resource to have on display for Open House! You could even create a PowerPoint presentation using the images and the student captions as a way to share the events of the school day with parents. (Or maybe you could work with the computer teacher to do this project in a joint manner? So many possibilities!) It’s also nice to circulate this kind of book through your families by sending it home with students for the evening.
The Best Part of Me
Have you seen this beautiful book?
Wendy Ewald is a photographer who works with children to integrate photography with writing. She is so inspiring! In this book, she asked children to select their “favorite” body part and tell what it is about that part that they love.
It is a great book to share with your students and use as an inspiration for a copy-cat project. (I call those “innovations.”)
Once students have identified their “favorite part,” it is photographed. Students then write descriptive poetry (in the style of the book) to accompany the photograph.
I have taught this lesson many times (or seen it taught) from preschool through college. It’s always a winner and the parents love it!
PS- I think this project looks really spectacular with black and white photos, but that is up to you. Want to turn your color photos into black and white? Picmonkey is my favorite place to edit photos- and so easy to use! Have you tried it? I’ll post a quick tutorial and share how I get my black and white photos
in my next post. It’s up right here!
Do you have any other photo-based writing ideas that have worked well with your students?