Photography is a fantastic way to document family outings in nature. Mom can get into a few shots as well when the kids are the photographers! Kids love technology and love your cellphone (if they don’t already have their own!) Cell phones also have great built-in photo editing functions, so it’s easy and interesting. I would stay away from changing the colors too much because it could affect ID. Our favorite nature app right now is iNaturalust Seek. It makes learning a welcomed addition to exploration with cameras, because you can instantly identify a plant or creature using your photos. We still use our field guides though, so bring those, too in your bag of tricks. Magnifying glasses are fun, maps, binoculars, notepads, and pencils and compasses are great as well. Don’t forget a measuring device. They are needed for determining scale on tracks and scat!
Or be prepared to measure by arm length! Of course this is a great way to teach about the need for uniform measurements. This red mangrove seed measures as 4 hand segments on her sister!
For smaller kids, try having them take general photos like:
something taller than you
something shorter than you
something growing in the ground
something in their favorite color
something that doesn’t move or is nonliving
something that smells good
something that makes you are excited to see it
something that makes noise
If you are at a Preserve with an education center, see if they have Scavenger Hunts already created. If they do not, maybe try and use photos identified by the site that you can hunt for, and then take your own photos. Here’s a Bingo search we picked up at Brooker Creek.
When you are all back at home, print your photos and talk about them. How can you classify the images? Plant vs. Animal? Nonliving vs. living? By Kingdom? (The Seek app is helpful for this.) Maybe you can cut a photo up to identify parts of a plant. Or decide which plants and animals are Native vs. Nonnative. You will also now have a child-created field guide for the next time you visit the site. Absolutely you will get unexpected photo angles!
Finally, put one of the photos into a frame, one including the kids. When you walk past it on a drab day, it can transport you back into nature!
Good questions to ask each other at home:
Can you identify these plants and animals in your community?
How can you help preserve these habitats in your backyard?
Asking these questions will help you relate and “see” more on your next photography adventure.