Summer literacy activity: A photographer remembers

In the previous summer literacy article, we examined the importance of field trips for building vital background knowledge. An extension on the summer field trip is to buy the child a cheap disposable camera (or even a cheap digital in today’s tech-savvy world) and let them take lots of pictures during their summer excursions.

The key to turning the simple act of taking a picture into a literacy activity lies in developing the photos and planning for more than a shoebox full of half-remembered shots.

What to do with all those shots?

1. As you enjoy your summer trips, encourage children to take lots of photographs. Make sure to point our science and nature themes like birds, flowers, rocks, etc…

2. Paste these photos into a summer journal (previously discussed in the first part of this series here).

3. Add souvenirs from the trip, like small rocks, shells, flowers, etc.. to the summer journal pages. Hint: tape seems to work better than glue.

4. Have the child write a fond remembrance of the day or something they observed (scientific discovery) next to the photograph. They can even cut out the photograph's focal point and illustrate their own version of its surroundings.

5. Remind them to use the senses in their writings. Examples: “When we went to the beach the sand felt all hot and scratchy under my feet.” Or “The boardwalk had lots of food stands. The hot dogs smelled so yummy.” Or “We heard this bird chirping and I just had to snap his picture. He sounded like a tea kettle getting ready to boil”

6. As always, a book makes an excellent addition to this activity. Visit the local library or bookstore to find books that match the photographs your child has taken. Or even check out a book on photography.

© 2007-2009 Cheryl Vanatti for
Also posted as National Reading Examiner.

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