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Monday, December 14, 2009

Tuesday’s Toolbox

Tuesday's Toolbox button

Today’s tool for learning: a camera! Yes, we use our camera to capture our achievements and feats of learning, and even recording the steps of an experiment, but have you thought about using the camera itself for learning?

Some projects we have used our cameras for (and a few we plan to do some day):


  • Studying light and dark, shadow, texture, and composition. All of these can be done inside using everyday objects or outside on a walk or series of walks.
  • Learn about the different ways an artist creates the illusion of perspective and demonstrate through photography
  • Experiment with different lighting effects to change the mood of a photograph

snowflakes dark inside snowflakes dark outside


  • Nature study-capturing images of different plant and animal species for later research/study (can be more convenient than a sketchbook, especially for littles)
  • Take a photograph to record the location where a specimen was found that you are taking with you
  • Study vision and how the eye works by creating optical illusions
  • Study permanence and how it causes the illusion of movement in film by creating a stop motion film

Language Arts and Critical Thinking

  • Create a photo journal
  • Write a story using only photographs (think comic book style)
  • Take mystery pics and exchange photos---who can identify the most objects, who came up with the real stumper

mystery6I’m sure you can think of more, but this will get you started thinking.

While a film camera can be used for most of these, I think you’ll find using a digital camera much more rewarding, particularly for things like stop motion animation , nature study and art study. Your little learners will get immediate feedback, can see what is working and what isn’t, can take as many shots as they need, and they won’t break the bank with film processing. If you’re nervous about letting them use your camera, consider investing in a real, used camera for their use. The cheap, clunky kids’ camera tend to disappoint with inferior pictures. A decent point-and-shoot, used digital can be had for around $50 (I’d spend more than that in film and processing in a month with my kiddos).

Here’s a bonus: I’ve got some awesome 100% free resources for you to add to your toolbox:

The Museum of Vision has three free curriculum guides: Eye Openers: Exploring Optical Illusions, Art and Vision: Seeing in 3-D®, and Animal Eyes. These are all very good.

Cindy Downes has a free to homeschoolers unit study on Digital Photography (this is for grades 7-12, but could be easily modified for younger children).

Check out the current Tuesday's Toolbox.

What tools have you been using from your toolbox lately? To participate in the meme, please sign MckLinky with your post for Tuesday's Toolbox. Be sure to link back to this post so your readers can check out other ideas.


  1. what a great idea, I wouldn't have thought of so many uses for a camera!

    I'm going to enter a post in your's for a reading product, just let me know if it wasn't what you had in mind for this...

  2. oops, changed my mind and entered one about using my local bookstore!

  3. Like your use of the bookstore. Thanks for linking!

  4. I like this fact as we were using our camera to take baby pics for our blog... my kids somehow blew the flash bulb in my camera=) NOW that my dd NEEDS the camera as we study a little photography its broken....

    She wants a camera for christmas but that puts lessons on hold assuming she gets the one we puchased on black friday........SHHHH. I hop she does't see this=)



  5. Love the new meme and love the camera idea. I am definitely going to use some of your ideas! I've just entered a post on your mcklinky! Thanks for the opportunity.

  6. Great ideas for the camera, and thanks for those links.


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