By Shara Lawrence-Weiss
Did you know that using photographs has been shown, in research, to increase awareness and learning? Photos can teach facial recognition, numbers, letters, colors, concepts, feelings, sequencing and more.
Teachers and early childhood providers have long known the value of utilizing photos in teaching. You can put that research to good use in your own home, car, at the post office or on a plane ride!
Here are a few ideas:
Family photo place-mats. Print or glue photos to paper. Laminate or cover the images in contact paper (lamination will last longer). Write words near the photos that focus on specific themes: colors, numbers, feelings, memories, acceptance, etc. Don’t worry about making the place-mats perfect or filled with color. The photos and the text concepts should be the primary focus; which can be discussed at the dinner table, bringing everyone together to share and enjoy.
Turn photos into toys. Take a photo of your child wearing yellow and glue the image to a yellow piece of paper. Write “Yellow” on the back. Cover in lamination or contact paper. Hole punch and attach a flip ring. This is a simple but fun way to teach colors. The lamination will protect the photos for months to come (5 or 7 mil is best). Place this toy inside your purse or diaper bag and offer the game to your child in the car, at the post office or on a plane ride. If the lamination gets sticky, don’t worry – just wipe it off!
Further learning: Write numbers on the back of the photo cards. If the photo contains one person, write the number One. If the photo contains two people, write Two; and so on (this idea originated with Dr. Sally Goldberg).
Special needs: For sequencing, take photos of your child participating in daily activities: waking, dressing/shoes on, brushing teeth, eating breakfast, catching the bus, etc. Place them on a flip ring and write a brief line on the back of each photo, telling the story of how your child’s day will go. Use this often and it will help to alleviate some of the frustration that comes with daily routines.
Create stories at home. Turn your child’s photos into a story. Print or glue photos to paper and write text, according to your child’s age and stage. For pre-readers, use rhyming text and simple concepts. Staple or hole-punch the pages and bind with string. Children love personalized products. Research tells us that our name is our favorite word: we love to hear it. Having our name spoken by someone who loves us builds a sense of self esteem and self awareness. Be sure to use your child’s name in the book or on the cover page.
Teaching colors + recycling concepts. Laminate a photo of your child wearing blue. Fill a blue container with blue toys and place the photo inside or next to the bucket. Play together and talk about everything that’s blue! Fill the container back up and say, “We put all of the blue items back into the blue bucket.” This can be done with any color container and toys/photos.
Using photos in educational ways is fun and easy. Use these ideas or come up with your own!