Nature Photography Activities for Kids and the BEST Gift for Your Favorite 3-6 Year Old
Need a surefire gift with educational potential to please a 3-6 year old? Look no further than the VTech KidiZoom camera! (Opinions are completely my own. I'm sharing this product because I love it and think you will, too. This is not a sponsored post!)
I first saw this camera on a Somerville Community Pathway urban wike with a few friends. One friend brought along her four year old son, and he brought along his Kidizoom camera. When he saw something interesting, his mom encouraged him to take a photo of it. He was interested in the two types of bees he saw around flowers: they looked different. Why? We showed him that some were honeybees and some were bumble bees. He photographed the bees collecting pollen.
Curious, I asked my friend what he does with the photos. She explained that the camera has interesting features like effects, zoom, video, animated borders, and a voice recorder. She can download them onto a computer, like any other camera. He loves taking his camera on trips and to museums.
My teacher brain was on overdrive! Think of all the educational possibilities! I couldn’t wait to write you a post about all the amazing ideas I have. But first…
I noticed Jennifer from Toddler Trekking posted a photo taken by her son. She is located in western Washington state and blogs about hiking America with her toddler son in tow. She gives great advice about hiking with kids and reviews trails with a mom’s lens. She is also a self-proclaimed geek, so I figure we could be BFFs whenever we actually meet in person.
Jennifer shared with me their VTech KidiZoom camera journey, which was a gift she gave to her son when he was 2.5 years old because he kept stealing her own camera. She researched, looking for a durable kid-proof camera, and landed on VTech’s. She describes her son's first round of photos as “exactly what you would expect: blurry pictures of Mom, Dad, the dog, the Christmas tree, and his feet… oh so many pictures of feet.” But she explains, “Soon he began to carry it with him on hikes, taking pictures of friends and the scenery.”
Jennifer’s son’s photos have evolved, and she loves how they capture his view of the world. She finds that he goes out of his way to take shots from interesting perspectives—like climbing inside of a bush to shoot a photo looking out! His artistic work includes photos of trails and waterfalls, feet, his view from inside of a fort, and (of course) this action shot of a dog’s tail wagging!
She is currently printing his photos for his own photo album and for his hiking journal (…hiking journal? GREAT idea). They send their favorites to his grandparents, who live far away. They even post his photos from hikes on their community Hike It Baby Facebook page when they thank others for joining them.
With these two glowing recommendations, I decided this would make a great gift for my three year-old niece. I read a ton of reviews, which were mostly positive. Some people seemed to be unhappy that the camera includes simple video games. I asked my sister-in-law if that would bother her, and it didn’t, so I made the purchase from Amazon (prime shipping repeatedly saves my life).
The VTech Kidizoom camera gift was a HUGE hit. She LOVED it. She loved it so much that I actually felt bad about giving it to her at a party… it’s all she wanted to play! She took so many photos that she filled the memory on the device in less than an hour. Luckily, you can insert a memory card for additional space. She took photos of everyone and everything at her party. Although it was difficult for her to share it with her friends, she did, and they enjoyed taking photos of her, too. Over a month later, I wondered if she still uses the camera. The response was a powerful YES, she still loves it. It even helped her get over her first day of preschool jitters—her mom gave her the camera and she started documenting her new school as her anxiety quickly faded away.
My giddy teacher brain suggests the following possible uses for your child’s new camera. Don’t worry... you know I snuck some reading and writing skills in there! Of course, you don’t need the VTech KidiZoom camera for these activities. You can give your child your fancy iPhone, but hopefully you have a really heavy-duty case and don’t mind having 1,000 shots of the same thing in your camera roll. Haha! Here are some ideas:
Go on a photo nature hunt with your child, searching for and taking photos of natural items on a scavenger hunt list.
Have your child take photos of what you find along a hike (or any trip), print the pictures with one photo on a page, and then work with your child to write text to tell the story of your trip.
Make a poster of things your child found on a hike with text. Include captions by your child or written by you with his/her help. Hang it somewhere in your house for your child to talk about with visitors.
Print photos taken on a hike and make them into a sorting game (living/nonliving, colors, size, insects/reptiles/mammals, etc).
On a trip to the zoo or aquarium, collect pictures of animals you see, and make a book of them with text written by or with your child.
Visit an arboretum or garden, and make a book of the plants you saw with captions written by or with your child.
Help your child send postcards of his or her favorite pictures to grandparents with text written by or with your child. Make the postcard yourself or use the awesome app TouchNote to send it digitally. If you haven’t checked out this app, I super highly recommend it. It’s easy and cute. (I’m just in love with it; this is not a paid endorsement!)
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How do you encourage your kiddos to take pictures outside? What have you done with photos your children have taken?