My kids love looking through pictures on my phone. They’ll also spend an hour flipping through the pictures, just looking and remembering. We have both of our Apple TVs set up to use photos as screen savers, and I’ll often find the kids just watching the pictures change.
I used to think of these activities as time wasters. But then I realized there’s actually a lot to learn with photos.
It’s also a great way to spend time together. So bring out the photos, and snuggle. While you’re reminiscing, your child will be:
When your child sees a photo, she starts thinking. She may wonder:
- Who is in the picture?
- What was happening?
- How old was I?
- Where was this?
- Why was I wearing that?
These questions help trigger your child’s memory of the event. If they don’t have a memory, it helps them develop their curiosity and creativity.
You can also ask a few key questions to get their memories flooding back. Try:
- What were you doing in that picture?
- Do you remember how much you loved that shirt?
- Wow, you were having so much fun with your friends. Tell me more about what you did that day.
Improving Communication Skills
As kids talk about pictures and memories, they’re practicing important communication skills. They’re learning to ask questions, to share memories, and to speak their ideas.
Communication is essential for life! So practice asking and answering questions as the pictures change. Pictures are a fabulous starting point for family stories.
Understanding Family Dynamics
If your photos are anything like mine, there are tons of pictures of extended family in there. Whether they’re pics I saved from Facebook, or ones we took while enjoying time together, there are people my kids don’t see everyday.
Use these pictures to enhance your child’s understanding of family dynamics. You can use words like cousin, second cousin, cousin-once-removed, sister-in-law, grandpa, step-dad, and all those other family words.
Understanding that there’s a core family and an extended family is an important concept, especially for little kids. Photos help make the connection! And they’re a great way to introduce them to the family who lives far away, who they may not have met yet.
Pictures don’t show everything. They just capture a single moment in time.
Without the details written on the back, the specifics can get lost. Thankfully your child has an imagination that’s perfect for filling in the blanks.
You can ask questions like:
- What do you think happened right before this photo was taken?
- What was this person looking at?
- Tell me about this dress–do you think there’s a story behind it?
- What’s going to happen next?
These conversations will help your child learn to take a little bit of information and extrapolate something. It’s an important skill for critical thinking.
Pictures document the passage of time. As your child checks out photos from the past, they’re learning to organize data. Was this picture taken three years ago or four?
How old was I there?
Here are some photos from the same day. Which one happened first?
Can I sequence these photos to tell a story?
If you have actual photos your child can pull out and use, they’re great for these types of learning activities.
Improving Observation Skills
What are the subtle details waiting to be found in each photo? Is the child holding onto something in one hand?
Is there a piece of a cousin’s hand there in the corner, just barely making it into the photo?
What season was it when this photo took place?
Looking at photos, really looking at them, means your child is using observation. They’re learning to pay attention to the details.
You can also take this activity a step further, and select ten or twenty photos. Then create a scavenger hunt of sorts, with all sorts of details. Have your child closely look through the pictures, checking off items on the list as they are found.
How do you learn with photos?
Do you have other learning activities your kids do with photos? I’d love for you to share in the comments.