Q: What do you get when you give five digital cameras to groups of rambunctious kindergartners and challenge them to find objects to photograph in their classroom?
A: Pure magic (and a little chaos)
After dreaming about this lesson for years I finally decided to give it a try several weeks ago. My goals were to familiarize students with operation of a digital camera, have them work together to locate objects in the classroom, then compose and successfully take pictures of those items. Secondarily, I wanted them to be able to recognize the object (type its name) and explain the purpose of the camera lens, shutter, flash and wrist strap.
In the Classroom
With my wife’s help, I prepared five sets of eight 3×5″ index cards with handwritten words of objects commonly found in a classroom: Paper, Crayon, Book, Computer, Floor, Chair, Desk and Carpet. Meeting my students in their regular classroom was very effective as it heightened the students’ curiosity and helped me maintain their attention. I introduced the lesson by explaining we were going on a “Digital Camera Scavenger Hunt” and they instantly knew what I was talking about. When I asked how many knew how to use a digital camera, in every class, nearly every hand in the room went up. After a quick demonstration of the camera’s main features (mostly Kodak CX7300′s) and a run-through of the cards I’d created, I gave one of each to the groups of eager students. Then, I got out of the way…
As you can see above, the photos weren’t all perfect, despite my instructions; in fact, only about 70 pictures were worth keeping out of the several hundred the kids took. But many were just fine and a few were perfect. I love how the kids’ tendency to cut off subjects’ heads (or photograph only parts of faces) made it easy for me to share these photos online. 🙂
The students exuberantly bounced around the room, shouting with joy as they located each particular item and pleading for attention of the group’s photographer (we made sure this job was shared.) It was a flurry of frantic activity that took about 15 minutes. We collected the cards and cameras, made sure everything was accounted for, then headed down to the computer lab for some games for the rest of the period.
In the Lab
The following week, our follow-up lesson involved a warm-up featuring eight puzzles I’d created using selected photos and the terrific, free Jigsaw Planet website:
These puzzles were ideal thanks to the large, friendly shapes (6) and the option to have the “Ghost” image behind the puzzle for those who needed it. After that warmup, we moved on to the main lesson, the completion of a PowerPoint template I’d prepared for them. Essentially a keyboarding exercise, they needed to navigate to each slide and type in the name of the object (which was shown on the photo itself.) They needed to spell the words correctly and capitalize their names before we printed the presentation out in handout form to take home:
What’s in our Classroom (KDG)
Our Digital Camera Scavenger Hunt was a great success, thanks largely to a good bit of preparation and allowing plenty of time for kids to work at their own pace, individually and in groups. This isn’t the most original idea, but, it’s one I’ve wanted to try for a while, and I know the kids had fun and learned a lot. I’m looking forward to doing it again next year!