Get outside with photography: Merging technology with nature
Kids are naturally fascinated by the world around them. They jump in puddles, chase squirrels and make piles of rocks for no apparent reason. But as children grow, they start to lose this connection with nature if it’s not reinforced, and in the process they get less physical activity, trade sunlight for that blue computer glow, and lose their appreciation for what I consider to be the greatest classroom.
I’m a huge advocate of encouraging our children’s positive relationship with nature. It can be cheap, active, fun and easy.
Don’t get me wrong – we all know I’m a huge fan of technology, but sometimes it can really disconnect kids from the wonder and fun of nature. So, rather than kids abandoning one fun thing for another, why not bring the two together?
Make it practical with photography
Simply going for a walk isn’t always enough to keep a child engaged with the outdoors. No doubt, nature is super interesting and there’s so much cool stuff to see, but sometimes kids need a task to focus on to stay interested. By offering photography as a thing “to do” outside, we can keep kids interested in nature walks and in engaging with the world around them!
What you need
- A camera. I use my iPhone, but anything you have at home is good. Keep in mind the younger they are, the more likely they are to drop it.
- With the advances in digital zoom, you can more easily take photos of potentially harmful animals like bees from a safe distance. It will also show your kids that these animals aren’t out there to hurt you, but to pollinate, nourish their hive and exist happily. It’ll give them a deeper appreciation for the nature all around them!
- Editing tools. You don’t really need this, but I find it really fun. I use apps like Snapseed (it’s free!) and then export my edited photos to Instagram. Remember, your kids don’t have to do the online social component. Just take a photo, edit, and then email it to Yiayia, or print and hang it up on the fridge.
What to do
- Decide on a location. You can take photos anywhere: a park, ravine, your neighbourhood, or even your front lawn – You’ll be surprised how many small, furry and interesting organisms live where you do.
- Photograph whatever looks interesting! This could be a weird bug, a neat plant, other wildlife… anything!
- Nurture, and demonstrate. Do it with your kids. Take your own photos, and show them just how easy it is. You might find you enjoy it as well!
Other fun extensions
- Go to the beach, or somewhere with clear horizons, and photograph the rise and fall of the sun (remember sun safety!) or moon. It’ll make a great collage.
- Learn more about your photo subjects by Googling them on your smart phone or at home later! – Another way to merge technology with nature in a meaningful, engaging way.
Time sink to Creative Propeller
Let’s be real. Our kids are using computers and apps all the time. Not to date myself, but the Internet only truly became accessible when I was in elementary school. Now, babies are practically born with iPads in their hands!
Instead of always fighting your kids to play less Angry Birds (sometimes regarded as a time sink), redirect their time on their devices and teach them how to get functional use out of them. Photo editing apps are a great example; they allow kids to develop their creative skills while encouraging them to get outside… all while still playing and having fun. Turn that time sink into a creative propeller!
Go! Get exploring!
With summer almost at an end and school just starting, your window is closing this year to get outside and photograph green and colourful nature. But don’t worry, next up is winter, the best time to take photos of animal tracks!
- One of my favourite palaeontologists, Scott Sampson, is big believer in getting outside. He’s an advocate for developing our children’s curiosity in nature through creative play and exploration, and is a personal hero of mine. You can read his series of posts (Nature Tips) on this philosophy here!
- You can also follow me on Instagram @kironcmukherjee! I like to take photos of insects, what our campers make at the Museum, and behind the scenes photos!