The Naughty Bus is one of my favourite stories to read to children. The text is presented in a fun way, with words that help convey meaning. It’s the illustrations that bring the story to life for me though, real photographs in a fiction book. I love the way a real London Bus toy comes to life on the pages in the way that children imagine when they are playing with their own toys.
These illustrations made me think about the ways that photography can inspire children to write. What if children used their own photography as a stimulus for writing?
Each day this week, children have come to school to find our own Naughty Bus in various scenes of chaos.
These scenes created lots of conversation and excitement each morning, and I modelled how to capture these moments with our camera. In a few taps of the iPad, I could snap a few photographs, swipe through them with the children on the spot, select the ‘one best’ photo and print it wirelessly to display on in our classroom. The children then set to work cleaning up after their Naughty Bus but the moment was captured forever (and shared with parents via the class blog).
During the week, the children made their own bus models. I taught them how to use a pencil to outline the shapes of a bus, looking closely as the details of a real London Bus toy, and how to colour in both sides of their bus too. They cut their bus out of card and we headed outdoors to Woodland Workshop with our buses (and cameras!)
It’s always important not to give young children lots of instructions, let them explore and make mistakes, adapt their techniques through authentic learning experiences and review their work. This is the same for taking photographs too. I didn’t want to tell the children how to take a good photograph before they had taken their own. So I let them head out around our woodland area to set up their own scenes and take their own photographs.
This is the start of children becoming their own Naughty Bus inspired author as they are taking photographs in the style of the illustrator. The story ideas are being generated here, in the outdoors with the camera, as children decide what is possible for their Naughty Bus and the mishief they can communicate through their images.
After the Woodland Workshop, we walked to our school garden for a second photoshoot with our buses. This time, I gave the children some tips for taking photographs. I had observed some children taking photographs that were really close up of the bus. Other children had photographs that were blurred as they had moved or wobbled when pressing the shutter button.
I showed how photographers need to step back to see the whole view and how to stand still by tucking elbows in and gripping the iPad with thumbs on the front and fingers on the back. They set off and snapped some more images.
Back in the classroom I airdropped all of the photographs to my teacher iPad, naming and saving each photograph. Next I printed them and we used them for writing in their own Naughty Bus books. Children designed the front covers and put in their own pages, cutting and sticking their photographs and the photographs I had taken of our class scenes each morning.
Over the weekend, children took their Naughty Bus models home and parents emailed photographs of scenes too. I’m looking forward to displaying these images and seeing what independent writing is inspired by photography from home too.
For more ideas on photography in the early years, download this free book ‘The Rich Potential of Young Children’s Photography‘ and read more about The Young Children Can Create Series here.