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Picture This!

Wea01505Kids are naturally visual.  By adding an arsenal of image-friendly techniques to your toolbag, you'll help your students link what they see to what they're learning. Here are some of my favorite ways to use images in the classroom along with a couple of great image search websites.

  • Create a slideshow preview. Collect photographs based on the current science or social studies unit and create a slideshow that can play as a screensaver on classroom computers during down time.  I love to use this technique at the beginning of a new unit so that when students arrive in class, they see images related to what we're about to study. It makes for a great conversation starter as students use prior knowledge to explain how the images link to the unit.
  • Create writing prompts.  If you have students use a daily writing prompt for journals, create a set of interesting images that can be used as story starters.  This is a great way to help students learn to add descriptive elements to their writing too.  I keep a set of images in my iPhoto library that are labeled Writing.  As I find interesting pictures that are begging for a story, I add them to the folder.
  • Make student stickers.  This is great for Kindergarten classes and pre-readers! Take a picture of each student and print their picture and name on address labels. Use the labels to mark mail cubbies, notebooks, and other personal storage spaces.  If you use chore charts or group lists, use the stickers to create index cards for each student to denote their tasks.
  • Create a class memory movie.  Select a student of the day to take pictures of each day's events.  At the end of the year, use the photos to create a slideshow or video from the first day of school to the last.  If you have a DVD burner, you can make a copy of the movie to send home with your students as a keepsake.

If you'd like to find more ideas, check out this list from Gayle and these ideas from "Digital Cameras in the Primary Classroom." Want even more ideas? Look no further:


If you don't have access or time to take your own photos, all is not lost.  Look to one of these sites for classroom friendly photographs.

  • US Government Photos and Graphics.  Links to dozens of government websites that contain public domain photographs.
  • NASA Image Exchange. Space images, video and audio from NASA's archive.
  • My Florida Digital Warehouse. Images and public domain clipart collected and housed by Florida's Center for Instructional Technology.
  • Pics4Learning. This collection of photographs was largely donated by teachers, students and others who wanted to create an image bank geared to education.  You'll find a dozen of my photos in there.  Why not work with your students to add to the collection?
  • Flickr's Creative Commons Search. Flickr is a social photography site where users share their photos. Many users license their photos under a Creative Commons license to make them available for use by others. Read more about the license at the site. (Note: Flickr may contain images that aren't suitable for younger students.)

Wondering where the photograph above came from? It's part of the NOAA Image Library, which is one of the many sites listed under the US Government Photos and Graphics link above.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Tech Tutors "Supporting Teachers Use of Technology" are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.