It's considerably easier to get creative with digital cameras,
although "old-fashioned" cameras will do the trick as
well. When children have control of a camera, they learn to look
at the world just a little differentlythey notice patterns where
they didn't before, they think about everyday objects with a fresh
perspective, and they develop their confidence in their own
creativity. Photography is essentially a means of not only
documenting the past, but also communicating. Children learn to
predict outcomes and actively participate in
"experiments". With a digital camera, the results are
close to instant and there is more room to explore. Here we present some ideas for turning photography into a
creative, learning experience for kids.
Photo Fun -
Ideas for Kids
- Make a
"My Day" Photo Journal
Dedicate a day
to snapping photos of interesting things you see during the day.
These can be as simple as a pet in a unique pose, a parent packing
your lunch, or a pretty leaf on a tree. Use your photojournalist
skills by organizing the photos on a poster or in a scrapbook,
adding captions to each. A similar project would be a "My
Neighborhood" scrapbook. You can take pictures of simple
things, like the mailbox on the corner and the neighborhood park.
These kinds of projects will be keepsakes later on in life. Not
many people will have taken pictures of "ordinary"
things in their past, but you will!
and partial photos of ordinary objects and have your family and
friends guess what they are! A close-up photo of the eyes on a
pineapple or potato are examples.
- Put your
Photos on T-shirts
With a print
program like Print Artist and some T-shirt transfer paper, you can
transfer your photos to T-shirts to create wearable photo
photos onto a sturdy piece of cardboard, cut the picture into
pieces, and create a homemade and personalized puzzle.
- Set up
Small, Detailed Scenes with Toys and Figurines
over a digital camera, one of the first thoughts on the brains of
our group of kid testers was taking pictures of their figurines.
This turned out to be a fabulous little project. Our testers made
some fabulous scenes with Hamtaro figurines they called
"Moonlight Dinner" and "The Wedding". With a
little trial and error, they managed to snap some close-up photos
that made the little figures look larger than life.
to take a good picture comes quite naturally with experimentation.
At first, kids will generally snap anything they see. But when
they see the results of their pictures, they might notice that,
for example, a cluttered background interfering with the overall
look of their photo. Candid photos of people in natural poses
often turn out the best, and taking pictures of objects at a
slight angle often produces a superior photo. Experimenting with
distances and lighting can be great learning experiences as well.
- Take Your
Camera on Day Trips
When a child
has control of a camera, ordinary trips to the store, for example,
take on a whole new meaning. Of course, you can take your
camera with you on trips to the zoo, a farm, or other family
outing that permits the use of cameras.
- Become a
Collector of Intangible Objects!
Lots of kids
collect trading cards, stamps, and other tangible objects. You can
"collect" abstract and hard-to-collect items through
photos! Perhaps you want to collect icicles but don't have the
freezer spacesimply snap photos of interesting icicles that
you see over time. It would be impractical to collect doorknobs,
illegal to collect manhole covers, and impossible to collect
sunrisesbut with photos, virtually anything is game. Funny signs
or interesting license plates are other ideas for collections.
Digital Photo Tools
plenty of software programs available that allow you to manipulate photos. Basic
photo editing software can be found in products like the latest editions of Print
Master that provide tools like red-eye correction, sharpening
blurry images, and so forth. Also included in the program are
templates for scrapbook pages, greeting cards, stationery, and
various other print studio projects. This is an inexpensive
[For more information, or to buy:
Print Master Silver 16.0 (Jewel Case) at Amazon.com]
If you're looking for something
more feature-rich, choose Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006. The photo editing tools in this program are more
advanced, and the photo project starters are plentiful. In terms
of digital photo retouching, this program allows users to add
flash to dark photos, adjust the brightness of entire pictures or
selected areas, reduce backlighting, crop and zoom in on photos,
airbrush imperfections, sharpen blurry images, resize photos, and
so forth. Users can add artistic filters to their photos (such as
Impressionism and Watercolor). Text can be added, as well as fun
special effects (to distort, smear, add shadows, colorize black
and white photos, add designer edges, etc.).
Truly stunning projects can be
produced with this software. Projects include
scrapbooks, calendars, postcards, magazine covers, business cards,
photo crafts for kids, stickers, and frames.
The face touch-up tools are
excellent. Users can enhance eye and lip color,
remove blemishes and correct lines/wrinkles, whiten teeth
with the airbrush, and adjust/correct skin tone.
The suite's Photo Story 2.0 is
incredibly fun for children (and adults!). Users can turn still
photos into video with this tool, quickly and easily. The images
automatically pan and zoom, kids can add narration or background
music, and the resulting videos are exciting to watch and share
with family and friends.
[For more information, or to buy:
Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006
Although most families will be
more than happy with Microsoft Digital Image Pro, some users will want to
go a step further with a product like Jasc Paint Shop Pro
(see our review
for more details).
My Fabulous Life in Pictures
scrapbook truly is "fabulous". It's a spiralbound
keepsake for kids, filled with pages designed to showcase
their lifetheir family tree, favorite things, best
friends, pets, and so forththrough photos, drawings, and
picture cut-outs. There's a page that frames photos of faces
with goofy hairstyles; spaces for collage projects;
fill-in-the-blank questionnaires; party pages; "My 20
Year Predictions" page complete with an envelope bound
into the book to be used as a time capsule; and even a
"Page of Shame" for those inevitable bad photos.
Included are stickers to help kids decorate the pages along
with a package of templates to use for cutting photos just
right. This is a very creative--and
creativity-inspiring--book by Klutz Press. S
[For more information, user
reviews, or to buy:
My Fabulous Life in Pictures
It is now
rather difficult to find digital cameras designed specifically for kids.
However, digital cameras have dropped in price dramatically, and
there are some no-frills entry-level digital cameras that are
perfect for kids, and they take some nice photos at the same time.
reviewed the Jam Cam 3.0, which is no longer available
(although you can still find this camera through alternate
sources: click here for some options: KB Gear JamCam 0.3MP Digital Camera, Silver),
and recommended it for kids.
New! The Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Digital Camera-Blue
Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Digital Camera-Pink
look like toy cameras, but are real digital cameras
encased in truly "kid tough" material. This is our pick
for the youngest of digital camera users simply because it's tough
enough to be trusted with preschoolers. The quality of pictures is
low, no doubt, but children so young really are not concerned at all
about the quality of pictures. Its attractive features do not
include picture quality--they include durability and ease of use.
This digital camera makes a good introduction to the fun and
learning of photography. It has a 1.3" color LCD preview screen and
kids get instant gratification when they view the pictures they have
just shot. Deleting the pictures that didn't turn out well is easy.
Also unique is the camera's two-eye viewing feature, which makes
taking pictures sort of like looking through binoculars. that makes
looking through the viewfinder a breeze. It has only 8 MB of
built-in memory for up to 50 pictures, but there's an SD card slot
for expanded storage capacity. The USB cord for connecting to the
computer is included, as well as software that does the job of
Kidizoom Digital Camera by Vtech
Although this camera boasts video and sound, its image quality is poor. Its 1.8" LCD screen is acceptable, and a tad larger than the one on the Kid Tough camera, but still not great for little eyes. It has a dual viewfinder (so kids don't have to squint), and more advanced features, although sometimes more is less when it comes to the target market--preschoolers.
For more information, user reviews or to buy: Vtech - Kidizoom Digital Camera - Blue
Because lower-end adult digital cameras are really quite inexpensive
these days, we recommend getting one of those for kids approximately
ages 6 and up, depending on the maturity of the child and the care
with which he or she handles the camera.
There is also the new Digital Blue - U Turn Digital Camera,
which comes in
a blue or pink version and plays to the fact that kids love to
take pictures of themselves! It's a novelty concept, for
certain, with morphing effects and a twistable set-up that
allows for easier self-portrait activities.
At this point, however, there are
alternatives that offer more quality for the same, slightly
Those parents who simply want
their kids to have a digital camera and are not overly concerned about
the photo quality might consider a beginner's range camera for
the Argus QC-2185 Quick Click 2MP Digital Camera
is in the $30-$35 range, and is a beginner's point and shoot
camera that also takes movie clips. It only has 8MB of built-in
memory. There aren't many features here,
but younger children don't need them, and
there is no reason to pay more for unnecessary features. The
camera is lightweight and easy to use, with automatic
[Buy Argus QC-2185 Quick Click 2MP Digital Camera
the kids, you might consider a less-expensive digital camera with
approximately 6 MP resolution more than adequate for the
photo-shooting needs of
Nikon Coolpix L20 10
MP Digital Camera
for kids. Currently, we recommend the
Nikon Coolpix L20 for children. Although not specifically designed for kids, this
10 MP of resolution and 3.6x optical zoom camera keeps it in the
beginners' range of digital camera units, but it's a huge step
above the cameras listed above, and
not much more expensive! It's a good and reliable choice for families and
children. Video clips can be taken, with audio. This digital
camera combines affordability and reliability and makes a good
choice as a camera you might want to buy your preteen or
teenager. It also includes a few color settings for taking fun
pictures. This camera is ideal for preteens and teens. This
is a fantastic choice, and comparatively very inexpensive (as
little as $85).
Nikon Coolpix L20 10MP Digital Camera with 3.6 Optical Zoom and 3 inch LCD (Deep Red)
at sale prices from Amazon.com]
Runner Up: One
of the most popular digital cameras, with both reviewers and
owners, is the
Canon PowerShot A1100IS.
This camera is a little more expensive than the Nikon Coolpix above, but it also has better output, with its 4X optical zoom. This
digital camera has a video mode with
sound. It uses two AA batteries, and it takes very
[Buy Canon PowerShot A1100IS 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 4x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.5-inch LCD at sale prices from Amazon.com]
If you're willing to spend more money to
purchase a camera for the whole family (a "regular"
digital camera is perhaps best for children
ages 9 and up), consider a mid-level camera with approximately 4 MP resolution, which tends to strike the right balance between
price and digital camera performance, generally producing nice
digital cameras for families comes from Kodak -- the
EasyShare line. Why? They're extremely easy to use and deliver
high-quality results. Straightforward features make some of these
cameras a breeze for novices--and we suspect there is at least one
novice in every family.
for families. Instead of dealing with
screens that take you through numbers and terms like "white
balance", a digital camera like the Kodak EasyShare Z915,
which uses easy-to-understand language that holds users' hands
through what can otherwise be a rather complex task, is
refreshing. Its 10 MP resolution and 10X optical zoom
sharp images. Families can have fun experimenting with its
multiple modes (for example, sport for action shots,
bright for bright beach scenes, etc.). The EasyShare line
of cameras are easy enough for a child to use, as well as sturdy
and not too expensive. This camera is ideal for preteens and
teens, as well as for adults, making it a fantastic choice for
families. Another inexpensive option in the Kodak EasyShare line
is the Kodak EasyShare 10.2MP Digital Camera - Silver (C180).
[Buy Kodak Easyshare Z915 10MP Digital Camera with 10x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 2.5 inch LCD (Black)
or the Kodak EasyShare 10.2MP Digital Camera - Silver (C180)
This Kodak digital
camera is comparatively large, but sturdy enough for family use.
The optical zoom means that the camera doesn't rely on the
megapixels when in zoom mode, offering more clarity and overall
quality of images.
tend to evaluate a digital camera on its megapixels alone, which
of course is a decent measure of a digital camera's quality, but
would do better to factor in the quality and features of the lens
as well. Optical zoom is superior to digital zoom because a
digital zoom uses the camera's megapixels to zoom, which comes at
a cost to picture quality. More clarity comes with the optical
Digital Cameras Work: Getting technical about these "filmless