I am a big fan of DS106, the digital storytelling MOOC (group? online course? community? it’s a mix, I guess), and especially of the Daily Create project there, which is a way to encourage myself to create something on a (not quite) daily basis.

As I’ve been thinking more about the maker movement and getting more involved in it, I’ve also been thinking more about how to encourage more learning activities centered on creativity.

For the last couple years, I’ve been helping to put on a local event for kids that is a part of a larger adult event focused on the cultural and natural heritage of our area. This year, I decided to do a short hands-on activity on digital photography, very roughly borrowing from the Daily Create.

Our group of kids for this was about 10 and included kids from age 4 to 14. Here was the overview we started with:

The kids especially liked making up stories to go with some of the photos we showed (slides 3-5). They were very creative, and I think this also helped them think about how photos can tell stories.

Then we gave kids little slips of paper with photo challenges on this. (This list was brainstormed with some of my Twitter friends. Thanks to all who contributed.)

Then we turned the kids loose with cameras to do the challenges. Not only did they *love* this activity, but they took some really great photos. Below are a few. (Note that we didn’t have access to computers for this activity, so all the focus was on the actual photography. Another dimension could be added with computers and editing activities.)

I was surprised how well this worked with very small preschool kids all the way up to high school kids. I think the kids took away all kinds of interested ideas and new ways of thinking. I hope this will lead them to thoughtful storytelling and creating in the future.

As always, feel free to borrow anything here for your own use if it’s helpful.

“Make a picture with a rock in it.” by 4 year old Emery:

[these pics to come pending approval]

“Make a picture with straight lines in it.” (by Arwen)

“Make a picture with curves in it.” (by Athena)

“Make a tower of rocks and take a picture of it.”

“Make a picture of someone who is sleeping.” (by Arwen)

Kids photo challenge = great fun + creativity + learning
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