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A Cameras in the Classroom Close-Up

Part 1 of a 6-part series giving you a closer look at our classroom photography program.

Have a behind-the-scenes look at our Cameras in the Classroom program in action. The awesome Grade 3/4 students featured here attend a junior elementary school in Toronto's East end, and their teachers booked our program so that their students' photographs could be showcased in their school's annual Art Night.

For this workshop, we explored how to use vantage points to create more visually interesting and compelling photographs. Learning how you can use your body and a camera to make photos from different angles is an ideal challenge for kids ages 7-9. Developmentally, they are eager to experiment and of course, agile enough to get the best shots!

We were a bit dismayed by the weather but the rain help up long enough for us to venture outdoors. Taking photos outside of the classroom is essential to the success of our program. At this school, we were able to explore their expansive playground area as well as the residential area around the school. The kids are tasked with a Vantage Points scavenger hunt encouraging them to take photos using the various angles we presented to them before heading outdoors. Most kids this age love a good scavenger hunt and usually attempt to complete each challenge on the list!

Can you spot which students are taking photos using a bird's eye view? A worm's eye view? A close-up? A long shot?

Then we head back to the classroom to print our photos on our portable Canon Selphy printers. We haven't met a student this age who hasn't love printing their own photos. It provides them with something tangible in a way that lost in today's digital landscape. The printers compliment our program's emphasis on providing a student-driven, hands-on experience and also gives us the opportunity to demonstrate how the printers use primary colours to create all the colours they've captured in their photos. We show them how to use the printers and then let them oversee their own printing in small groups of 3 to 4, depending on class size.

We then adhere our photos onto card stock and assign a few of the students to 'curate' a gallery wall in their classroom. (We like to call it a Pop-up Photo Exhibit!) The gallery wall allows students to show and share more about their photographs with each other. Reflection is key here. It's important that kids learn how to evaluate and understand what they are seeing. If we have time left in the session, we usually have the students present their photos in front of their classmates and ask them to tell us why they chose to print their selected image. If time runs out, we ask that teachers to oversee this important last step with their students either later that day or the next.

What vantage point did you use to capture the photo that you made? How did this vantage point help you create a more interesting photo?

Typically, we work with kids in grades 5/6 but we enjoy working with all kids up to grade eight. Our Cameras in the Classroom program is designed to meet the curricular expectations as well as support the developmental growth stages of each age group. For example, for the grades 3/4 we usually allow for more time outdoors taking pictures to help support their fine and gross motor skills whereas with the older kids in grades 5/6 we try to allow as much time to explain how the cameras work and to acknowledge and reflect on their attention to detail in their finished work.

We also have classroom programs that introduce other photography fundamentals such as our Elements of Design and Lighting and Portraiture workshops. Students can also attend our PA Day Photo Workshops throughout the school year.

If you would like to learn more about our Cameras in the Classroom program please have a look at our Info Kit or get started on your own with our free lesson plans you can download here. We're passionate about integrating photography into the classroom, so please let us know if you have any questions!


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