Nowadays, nearly everyone has access to a smartphone, tablet or camera. These tools can be used to develop and strengthen your child’s understanding of physical science and mathematics. The following investigative photography activity can help infuse critical thought and analysis into any preschool, or even at home.
Step 1: Introduction / tutorial
The first step is to assign the children to groups of 3-4. Once they are in groups, present them with the devices they will use for the duration of the activity. Using your own tablet as a model, teach them step by step how to use it and access the camera. Once the children are in their groups, and are familiar with their tablets, it is time to begin their hands-on introduction to technology.
Ask questions about the device:
- “What size is it?”
- “What shape is it?”
- “Is it heavy or light?”
- “What do you think we could do with it?”
Allow them to investigate the device and become better acclimated to its functions with some guided instruction by saying things like, “If you press this button, this will happen.” Once the children feel comfortable, it is time to start the activity.
Step 2: Explain the Assignment
Set the children up for their experiment. For example, you could say:
“As junior photographers on assignment, your job is to find something living inside of the classroom. Work together to determine what it means to be living, and what it takes to keep something alive. Remember, once you find your object, each of you will take a picture from a different angle. Once you are satisfied with your subject, we will gather on the rug to discuss our findings.”
Step 3: Conduct the Investigation
The children will immediately begin investigating the classroom for what they perceive to be living. Many classrooms have pet fish, frogs, turtles, or even spiders. Remember that plants are living things, too.
During the activity, walk around and start conversations with the children about their approach to the activity:
- “I see you found the fish. What do fish need in order to live?”
- “What makes a fish different from a dog or cat?”
Probing questions will help the children expand on their learning.
Step 4: Share the Results
Once it is time to sit on the rug and present, ask the children to show their pictures and talk about what they found. Allow them to ask each other questions, or make comments about the pictures:
- “What colors do you see?”
- “How is this picture different from the others?”
With this activity, multiple aspects of STEAM can be incorporated:
- Science—finding living things and discussing them.
- Technology—using an interactive tool to find and locate living things.
- Engineering—using the tool to reinvent how children see their environment
- Arts—using creativity to produce fun and lively photographs.
- Math—use math language to investigate their photos by finding shapes, angles, numbers and patterns.
Tablets and other interactive technology are a great way to make STEAM part of the preschool classroom. Modern tablets are more affordable than ever, and offer a full range of child-friendly settings.
- Children should construct knowledge through active participation.
- Children should be allowed to exercise choice in their learning experience.
- Children should gain experience using technology as an aide in understanding their environment.