Adapting Stories With Photography and Drawing

Having cameras in our mobile devices has changed the way we capture, edit and share photographs. Shooting an image outdoors now means we can crop it, adjust it and share it immediately afterwards. Whilst we are amazed at this as adults, the young children in our classrooms see this as normal and it’s a regular life for them. Children are exposed to cameras in almost every device they can put their hands on so we have a responsibility to teach children how to take and use photography for a particular purpose, otherwise their devices, and yours, become full of repeated, useless images like these:

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In a week themed around adapting the story of The Gingerbread Man, Reception children took their iPads to Woodland Workshop to capture and edit story scenes for their own runaway food stories. Previous learning has focused on taking close-up photographs outdoors or using the camera to capture story scenes of a naughty bus puppet misbehaving in the woodlands.

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Children were challenged to take a photograph of a story setting for their food to runaway in. After taking their best photo of a ‘whole view’ of the woodland area, children had 3 further steps:

  1. Tap the thumbnail icon
  2.  Tap Edit
  3. Tap … icon to tap the pen icon.

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This give children access to a selection of pen tools and colours to ‘markup’ their story setting photograph, just using the Camera and Photos app on iPad; no apps were needed to be download! With these digital tools, children could draw their runaway food character on to the photograph.

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This is a purposeful use of technology in an outdoor environment where photography is a real-world example of devices being used outside. Children could sit in the real place where their story is set and experience it whilst creating their character on their photograph. An authentic story planning experience!

Back in the classroom, I used AirDrop to send all of these photographs to my teacher iPad. From here I could use AirPrint to print all of them in 1 tap and upload their images to cloud storage or the children’s digital learning journeys.

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Once printed, this is where the purposeful of technology makes even greater links with other areas of learning. Young children’s photography and digital drawing became the stimulus for writing.

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With cut out speech bubbles, children are motivated to write what their character would say in their adapted story.

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Children applied phonics independently because they were motivated by the use of technology. There was a purpose to write because technology had been planned for thoughtfully.

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The photography and drawing activity enhanced the story planning process, giving children a real experience that could frame their ideas.

In the proposed review of the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile, being evaluated by the Education Endowment Foundation right now, the Early Learning Goal for Technology has been removed. There is also no mention of ICT, computers or technology throughout the new framework. Purposeful use of technology needs to be included in all areas of learning so that our young children continue to have access to devices which are shaping the way they play, learn and will work in Key Stage 1. At home, children are spending too much time consuming videos and games so it is imperative that we give children the skills needed to create with technology to balance this use rather than ignore it.


To learn more about ‘the rich potential of young children’s drawing’, read this guest post by early years teachers from Mere Green Primary School who have been using the Young Children Can Create books this year.

Download Your Free ‘Young Children Can Create’ Guides Now.

These 4 free guides are published on the Apple Book Store right now and written in partnership with Kristi Meeuwse and Jason Milner. Read more about The Young Children Can Create series here.

The Rich Potential of Children’s Photography

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The Rich Potential of Children’s Video.

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The Rich Potential of Children’s Drawing.

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The Rich Potential of Children’s Music Making.

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