Ideas for Using Digital Cameras in the Early Learning Classroom

Gail Lovely

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Digital cameras are great tools for young learners and their teachers. Digital camera prices have steadily dropped while the quality has steadily improved making it much more practical to use digital images in every learning environment. One huge advantage of digital cameras in the classroom over film cameras is that each picture costs only a little bit of memory in the camera or on your computer, no film developing costs at all so you can take as many pictures as you wish without worrying about your budget. Another significant benefit of digital cameras over film cameras is it is so much easier to use these images in so many ways with your computer.

Here are a few ways you can use digital cameras and the digital images you and your students take in your classroom to enhance learning.

Use Digital Camera Images to Create Classroom Environment or Management Materials:

  • Make Name Tags with Student images for substitutes
  • Use pictures for job charts, finished work, taking turns
  • Record bulky projects and save or print to student portfolio.
  • Take pictures of bulletin boards or room arrangements to remember "next year".
  • Email pictures of projects and events to local media (newspapers or community websites)
  • Take pictures of each center to make signs or take pictures of activities for a chart of choices or assignments.
  • Take pictures to show how a center looks when it is “cleaned up” to remind students how to clean it up.
  • Show progress through pictures taken over time (handwriting, art, centers)

Create Finished Products (by yourself or with students):

  • Make a class multilingual dictionary with pictures and multiple captions for different languages (for visitors, parents or student use)
  • Create web pages or library books on local history with pictures of the locations
  • Create a neighborhood map with photographs of local landmarks (like churches, markets, schools and homes)
  • Alphabet books
  • Geometry books (find pictures of squares, etc.)
  • Create school rule posters with pictures
  • Digital scrapbook
  • Create school tours and introductory books
  • Take pictures of signs and brands and make a book of environmental reading – think McDonalds, school signs etc.

For Student Activities

  • Use pictures as writing prompts
  • Capture weather examples, phases of the moon etc. for science discussion or reports
  • Take pictures during an activity, then students must put the pictures in the correct order.
  • Use a digital picture as a writing prompt
  • Take pictures of library books and send students on a scavenger hunt to find the books on the school library shelves.
  • Students look for geometric shapes and take the pictures and make a book of shapes and angles, or colors or things which start like “cat”
  • Students take action shots of events in a story and then others can sequence the images to match the story’s sequence.
  • Before a field trip visit the location and take pictures. Then print sheets with a collection of photos of things for them to find while at the field trip location.
  • Make rebus stories using photos of things in your school or classroom
  • Document changes… take pictures of each student each month and then students make a book about how they have grown (use the same setting for each photo to provide perspective), take pictures of class pet or plant to show changes over time.
  • Students select an item and make a counting book by arranging items in a pattern and photographing each number set
  • If your camera has a macro setting (allowing for extreme close-ups), take pictures and have students guess what the picture is.
  • Crop close-up photos of students to show just their eyes and have students match the pictures with their friends. Discuss how we are each unique.
  • Have students take a series of photos to illustrate a math problem (Joe has 2 balls and gives one to Mary…)


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