Children have wonderful imaginations. They enjoy being the voice of favorite stuffed animals or character toys. “Make-believe” is a land where children thrive and their stories can go on forever. Using a child’s story telling mind is a natural fit with photography. They will learn while having fun and the memories you make together will last a lifetime.
What You Need
You will need a digital camera for your child. There are many inexpensive ones available, or you can use an older cell phone that has a camera included. A computer and a printer are must haves as well as good quality photo or card stock paper. There are places you may send your photos away to be made into books, but it really isn’t difficult to do it yourself! Character objects for the story are also necessary.
Let your child decide how the story will be told. Will there be words on the page? Will there be pictures only and the story provided by the reader? Have the child brainstorm with you to create the story itself. Who are the main characters? What do those characters do or see? Are the characters going somewhere, or going after something, enjoying something or what other ideas might be developed?
Write the story like an outline. Details can be added later. Make a storyboard. At the top of the page in each block of the story, be sure to write out the ideas for that part of the story. Give guidance but allow your child to create and explore for themselves.
Is it an inside story, an outside story or maybe even an inside out one? Older children might enjoy establishing the shape of their story. Will it start at the beginning and go forward? Will it start at the end and reflect back? Let them take multiple photos so that they are able to choose the ones they like best for their book.
Now that the story has taken shape, it’s time for photography! This part takes strengthens thinking skills. Like a scavenger hunt, the child will need to decide how to bring their story to the page in photos. Will they make things to photograph? How about finding things to photograph? Will the background be natural or will they draw it? What do their characters look like? Do they look like fruits or veggies? Will they be miniature character figures or favorite stuffed animals and dolls? If the choices are blocks, or fruits, or vegetables, then will they have faces?
Let your child decide upon the cover. Will it be hand drawn or photographed? Be sure the author’s name and the title of the story are on the cover, with the date of “publication” on the inside front. Many photo apps and programs allow for text to be added to a photo page, or even right on the photo itself! At last, print and assemble the book. Enjoy the laughter and faces as you read through their story together.
Host a family reading night and reception. Perhaps there are other family members who would find attending the event to be great fun, too. Grandparents are often wonderful audiences for reading nights, remarks William Schoellkopf. Perhaps you could print up extra copies of the book so that your young author/photographer may autograph them for guests!
Remember that the goal is having fun while learning, the goal is not perfection. You want your child to fall in love with learning. If the child gets stuck at some point, use prompt questions to help them figure the challenge out for themselves. Don’t be surprised if your child wants to do something like this again. The activity may spark the idea for you to try it, too!