The Rich Potential of Young Children’s Photography

I’m always excited to hear from followers of my blog and connecting with readers through Twitter or by e-mail. Recently, teachers from Mere Green Primary have shared ways they have been using the Young Children Can Create books, which I published with Kristi Meeuwse and Jason Milner in August 2018. This is the second blog post which has been written by Terri Coombs and Rebecca Murray from Mere Green Primary School. In this post, they share the impact that The Rich Potential of Young Children’s Photography guide has had on their early years practice.

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Terri Coombs is the IT Lead for Mere Green and SLE in Computing and IT across the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership. She has 20 years teaching experience which includes 10 years of leading IT and is passionate about using technologies to inspire creative teaching & learning and enable all children to engage.
Rebecca Murray is the IT Lead for Early Years at Mere Green, she has 5 years of teaching experience in Early Years and promotes the use of iPads to encourage levels of independence.
Mere Green Primary School is an outstanding two form entry, family orientated school. We are driven to ‘make a difference’ for all our children, through support, nurture and trust. In addition to our mainstream children, we also have 20 places for children with statements for speech, language and communication from North Birmingham, who have enhanced speech provision across the school day. We are a fully inclusive primary school, which reflects the society in which we live.  We have a whole school vision for embedded use of IT to enhance authentic learning opportunities.

We had recently deployed 1:1 devices in our Year 2 primary class, and immediately realised that some of the basic skills of iPad were missing, meaning the children could not yet be independent content creators.We were looking for a resource to implement into our Early Years classes, that would enable children to skilful users of iPad before they reached Year 2. The Young Children Can Create series of books has proven to be effective at developing independent creators in the early years.

With access to iPads in the provision we now have the ability to teach our children camera skills and what it means to be a photographer and a creator. The Rich Potential of Young Children’s Photography book has a wealth of creative and imaginative ideas that could easily be implemented across the Early Years to do this.

Using The Rich Potential of Young Children’s Photography guide,we designed a curriculum with the goal of enhancing the use of iPads in Nursery and Reception provision. The aim being, to provide staff with a bank of skill based activities they could adapt to their year groups to enhance learning.The guide is organised as a progression of activities that will advance children’s skills and creative processes. Giving staff freedom in planning and child initiated learning, providing children the opportunity to take ownership of the ways in which they choose to present their learning.

During this half term we wanted children to gain a good understanding of appropriate camera use, as well as how to use the camera to enhance, expand and demonstrate their learning. In Reception we decided to use the upcoming school trip to the Sea Life Centre as a focus for the One Best Photo project. We used the iPads as a scaffold to build excitement and curiosity about the trip, whilst teaching children that photography can be used for a particular purpose. We explored the Sea Life Centre using their website, safari and Google Maps to engage the children and build up prior knowledge.

Mark Up Photography

Children were given the opportunity to combine photography and Mark Up to create drawings from ‘The Rainbow Fish’ as an introduction to sea animals. Children were challenged to take a photograph of the story setting and use ‘markup’ to add their characters . This resulted in children using their imagination and creativity to draw their own interpretation. Children were excited, engaged and motivated.

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Children in Nursery and Reception class also photographed scenes inspired by nursery rhymes and drew characters from these rhymes on to the images. They listened and learned each nursery rhyme and had to visualise what the setting would look like in order to photograph it somewhere in school. This showed the children had listened and understood the language in each rhyme.

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One Best Photo Project

This project was meaningful to the children as it took the creativity of photography out of the classroom and into the real world. Children were able to look closely at the animals they saw, capturing clear and close up images. They applied all the skills learnt this half term and used this to enhance, expand and demonstrate their learning. 

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Once back at school the children chose their One Best Photo and these were put up in a classroom gallery space to showcase our photographs. The children’s photography then became a stimulus for writing. Children were able to demonstrate their learning using the photographs as a visual aid. Children applied phonics knowledge independently and were willing to have a go. This was enabled by the enthusiasm and motivation that was created by the use of technology. 

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ChatterPix 

Introducing the app Chatterpix allowed children to add audio with voice recording to their photographs. Giving the children the opportunity to present their learning in a creative way and could also be used as a writing stimulus later on. Children used their photographs to record facts they had learnt about the animals. 

At the end of the half term teachers were given the opportunity to feedback on how The Rich Potential of Young Children’s Photography has impacted their children. 

Nursery Teacher: “Children’s confidence in writing has improved. The photographs gave them the inspiration and motivation to ‘have a go’” 

Reception Teacher: “The introduction of the photography guide has enabled a greater development in speech. Children are motivated and proud to talk about their photographs” 

Outcomes

This journey over the past half term has made it clear how the effective use of iPads can create an environment which celebrates all kinds of individualised learning. Children are able to interpret and articulate their thoughts and learning in an individual way, consequently enabling teachers to assess children’s understanding. Photography became a tool in which children could achieve mastery by applying their knowledge in different ways. Children were found to stay engaged for longer periods of time, levels of listening and attention significant improved when given the freedom to create something different. iPads enabled rich learning opportunities across all areas of the curriculum where creation and imagination was at the forefront of all learning. 

Developments

Since we have begun introducing the ideas and skills from Young Children Can Create series, there has been a positive shift in how iPads are being used across Early Years.  Whereas before, children had regular access to them but no real focus beyond accessing a specific app or website, they are now a valuable tool being used with purpose and direction.  Staff confidence has increased, and staff are able to ‘see the benefits’, the iPads are no longer an ‘added extra’ or ‘holding activity’. The technology is an integral and purposeful part of the planning, teaching and learning process.  

There is so much more we could add to this blog, having taken the ideas, not just into our own school but also sharing them across our Multi-Academy Trust of schools.

Future Plans

As we move further into our journey with using the Rich Potential of Young Children’s Photography we hope to embed this further across all areas of the curriculum. Encouraging even more personalised learning and supporting the children in learning there are different ways they can approach a concept, challenge or problem. We hope for the children to become even more independent and creative in representing their own ideas as their skills progress throughout the year. We are at the beginning of our adventure with the Young Children Can Create book series and look forward to implementing the ideas from The Rich Potential of Young Children’s Video next. 


Thank you to Terri and Rebecca for sharing more ideas from the Young Children Can Create series. To read about their work with The Rich Potential of Young Children’s Drawing click here.

All of the ideas shared in this post are detailed in the free Young Children Can Create Photography guide. These 4 free guides are published on the Apple Book Store right now and written in partnership with Kristi Meeuwse and Jason Milner. Don’t forget to read more about purpose of The Young Children Can Create series here as well!

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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