What parent doesn’t have oodles of extra photos around the house. Photos are great for providing your toddler and preschool children with fun learning opportunities. Photos can be used to make learning games, provide language and science experiences plus they are great for creative art projects. Dig out some extra photos and let the fun and learning begin!
Language Skills – Photos can be used to teach new words, and beginning communication skills.
Thinking skills – Photos can be used to introduce your child to basic concepts and matching skills.
Math Skills – Photos are great for learning quantity, size and shapes.
Science Skills – Photos can help you teach your child observation, sequencing, order, directions and charting.
Creativity – Using old photos, some paper and glue, your child can create murals, books, collages and many more projects that teach creative problem-solving, design and creative expression.
MAXIMIZING TEACHING MOMENTS
One way that parents can assure that their child will get the maximum learning from shared experiences is to plan ahead and make sure that they have everything that they need. Preschoolers attention spans are very short. They may actually get tired of the project before they begin, if they have to wait while you collect all the supplies.
GREETING CARDS (3-5)
This activity develops not only art skills but language skills as well. Give your child some extra photos of themselves and other family members. Also provide some pieces of copy or construction paper and some glue.
Show your child how to fold the paper to make a card. Then show your child how to glue a picture onto the front of the card. Next, have your child tell you who the card is for and what they would like to tell that person. Help them by writing their words inside the card. If she is able, have your child sign her card, herself.
For More Fun – Your children can also make books, posters, bookmarks using extra photos.
FAMILY CALENDAR (3-5)
Let your child help you make a family calendar for your wall or refrigerator. First draw a calendar grid on the bottom of a piece of paper. Then find some pictures that could represent the current month. Have your child pick one of these photos and glue it onto the top of your calendar. Write the name of the month on the top of the calendar, then fill in the dates and circle any special family days on your calendar.
Learning to differentiate between different seasons is a great beginning science skill.
For More Fun: Encourage your child to cross off each day and count the days left until some special day.
WHAT’S HAPPENING? (1 ½ -5)
Using a regular photo album, sit and look through the pictures with your child. Occasionally, point to one. Toddlers could be asked to name familiar faces. Preschoolers should be able to tell you what is happening in the picture. As you reminisce about past events, you will be helping your child develop language and memory skills.
PUPPET SHOWS (2 ½ -5)
Using extra photos, find a large one for each member of your family. Cut out each figure and show your child how to glue or tape them onto small craft sticks. Now your child has characters to use for imaginative play and storytelling.
For More Fun: Instead of using craft sticks, have your child glue the photos to the fronts of empty toilet tissue rolls. These characters can stand up on their own and can be moved around for imaginative play or mini plays.
MATCH UPS (2 ½ - 5)
If you ever order doubles of your photos, you can use them to make a matching game. Depending on the age of your child, pick 4-6 sets of different photos. Then mix up the photos and have your child find the matching pairs.
For More Fun: Using 3-5 unwanted photos of people standing, cut the photos in half (horizontally). Mix up the tops and bottoms and let your child find the correct top to go with each bottom.
BASIC CONCEPTS (3-5)
Looking through photo albums with your preschooler is a great time to review basic concepts; such as colors, numbers and shapes. Ask your child questions such as; “Can you find the red ball? Or square box?”
ONCE UPON A TIME (3-5)
Using extra photos, select twelve different scenes or objects. Mix them up and then turn them over. Have your child pick three photos, then turn them over and place them in a row at the bottom of the photos. Encourage him to tell you a story, incorporating the three objects or scenes in the three pictures, in the order that they appear in the row. If your child has trouble with this, take a few turns first.
For More Fun – Another way to play this game, is to put the photos into a bag and take turns drawing photos out of the bag. You start by drawing a photo and use it to start a story. Then it is your child’s turn to draw a card and continue the story. Help move the story along when needed.
PUZZLES (1 ½ - 5)
Simple puzzles can be made out of extra photos. Merely cut a familiar photo into several pieces and place them in a plastic zipper bag for storage. For toddlers, cut the puzzle into 2-4 pieces. For preschoolers, cut the puzzle into 4-8 pieces.
SEQUENCE PHOTOS (3-5)
Your child’s world is full of opportunities to learn sequencing and order. Help her take photos of a garden growing, a special outing, a special tree through the seasons. When your pictures are developed, place them in a plastic zipper bag for storage. Occasionally, take out a bag and have your child lay out the photos and place them in order of what happened first, second, etc.