Using A Digital Camera in the Classroom

Digital cameras can be used to enhance any project you would normally use photos or clipart. Below you will find many projects listed to help spark your imagination and get your creative juices flowing. The list below is divided into General and Subject Area. As you look over this list, remember many of the projects can crossover from one curriculum area to another.

General Classroom Ideas: PowerPoint Presentations; HyperStudio Presentations; Parent Night (Open House) Displays; Web pages;

Bulletin boards; Screensavers; Journal writing; School Newspapers; Document Classroom Projects; Snapshots to send to local media;

Daily announcements; Art projects; Show and tell.

Yearbook snapshots (Cuts down on expense; It is great for those deadline shots that you don't have time to take with a conventional camera. Of course, it doesn't work well for action shots, but it is wonderful for stills. Post pictures around the school of students who receive special awards. Photograph examples of superior student projects to give other students ideas. To make calendars for the administration and staff).

Use photos for posters or flyers for activities like Student Council.

Ideas on Using Digital Photos for Identification:

"Meet the Teachers" handbook with pictures of all the teachers in the building and what they teach to give to new students. Seating chart for substitutes Photos for student ID's, Faculty ID's, Substitutes ID's and Volunteers. Document health records for office personnel who distribute medications, including student photo, medication taken, time taken if daily and dosage. Take photos of each staff member reading a book and print the picture on 8 1/2 x 11 paper with the title of their favorite books at different times in their lives. The photo is then posted in their work area for students to see. Take pictures of new students/staff members and post them to introduce them to the school.

Student of the Week posters for each class. Post them outside the classroom for all to see.

Take pictures the Set-Up for various projects and use pictures as a review for a quiz, or a quiz itself.

Take pictures of each childs' eyes only. Have children try to match up their classmates by only their eyes. It demonstrates how distinctive and unique we really are. Oral discussion can then follow. Pictures can be printed onto paper with a lines on the bottom part of the paper. The child that is featured in the picture is then asked to write something about the picture on scrap paper. After we discuss what words need to be corrected or replaced, etc.... The child then writes on the paper with the picture.

Field trips: Have students write captions for the pictures and post them on the web as a virtual field trip.

Self esteem project: The students use the camera to take pictures of each other, then import the pictures into PrintShop and make bookmarks for each student. Each bookmark should have their name, picture and a compliment from another student in the class. Students love them and once the template is made, the project will not take a lot of time. If you have a school-wide video network, you can post pictures on that for all to see - sports, projects, field trips, etc

Use the digital camera with a tripod as an overhead calculator and a microscope. It will be a big help, especially with math. Some digital

cameras have direct video out..... Connect them to a TV/monitor and use them as slide projectors...or Connect them directly to a VCR.. to make ideos.. Casios have this option but usually don't have the floppy storage feature.

"A Typical Day In The Life Of A Student At <Your School Name>." The students kept the camera for a day, take as many pictures as theywanted, and as a group created a booklet of that day. You can gain great insight into their thought processes doing a project like this. Publish photos for many projects. Take photos of all cultural events, field trips and special events and put it together as a PowerPoint presentation for parents and school visitors. Also print out the photo pages and make a showcase display for the summer (to show prospective students some of the things we did during the previous year.) Bottom line is, you are limited only by your imaginations.


Photo your inventory and put the picture on the checkout card. This really helps when someone grabs a TV and tosses the card on the checkout stand while your out of the room. It also speeds up searching for "lost" items. You can show the card/picture and ask "Have you seen this???"

Social Studies

Take pictures of each student's face and incorporate that image into a computerized "Wanted" poster for the westward movement unit. Kids could add in (via text) the varmint's favorite book, etc. They could also be fancy and add in handlebar mustaches, black hats, etc. to make themselves look more sinister. Social studies students can use digital photos to design front covers for their reports. Photo essay projects of the old buildings and historic sights in your town. Create a slide show and use the photos to teach about each sites before and/or after you visit them with your classes. Then compile the photos into a tour booklet for each building. In addition, the photos could be used to test knowledge after the visit. Use the digital camera to help students understand history. Use Timeliner 4.0 from Tom Snyder where students research their own timelines. Take a digital scavenger hunt. Take pictures outside or on a field trip. Use photos to make a map of your communities.


Use photos to make posters, HyperStudio/PowerPoint presentation, or for use on web pages. Students can research more about leaves, rocks, or something from your garden. Those who study the ecosystems can use the camera to relate to nature. For example, in the fall, students take pictures to reflect different themes (color in nature, changing seasons, etc), then create an electronic photo album to keep them. Print out four favorite pictures and do a writing assignment in the classroom for the teacher. In December have students return to the sites of their season pictures, add these photos to the album, and have the students write about the differences and similarities between them. At the end of the year, create a multi-media project (using HyperStudio, PowerPoint or KidPics) highlighting favorite entries.

Document growth of a classroom plant or pet. Use lab pictures with a question/answer session before the lab featuring the question "What will we do next?" The teacher who submitted this idea said she got the students to read the labs and think about what they were doing. (This can be done using PowerPoint or other presentation tool) Use digital photo for leaf identification and lab equipment identification. Take a picture of each lab group. Then print the pictures onto floppy labels with the names of the students, the period and their group number. If you require all the labs to be turned in on disk, this made grading easy and helps the kids keep the disks straight. It's a good idea to give each label a quick (and careful) coating of clear tape to avoid the inevitable mustaches and horns which otherwise appear on your kids pictures!

Photograph lab setups and details of complicated arrangements. These can be stored for use by students making up labs due to absence. Here is the URL that was submitted if you would like to check it out: In the beginning of the year, have students select a place on campus to sit and observe. Then sneak around with the digital camera and take a picture of them in their "plots". These photos can be used in a PowerPoint presentation on their year of observations. You can print out a black and white version, laminate and give it to them for their journals. Some cameras have a video option for recording approximately 10 sec of roughly 16 frames per second stills. These stills can be frozen in print so that sequential actions can be analyzed. Perhaps falling bodies, rolling objects or anything else that can be photographed against a background of a measuring frame of reference. You could loan cheaper cameras to students for a couple of nights and they could take pictures of chemistry or physics in their everyday lives. They take pictures of candles and air conditioners and airplanes, etc. Then print them out and hang them on the wall in the classroom. Use the digital camera to document independent research projects. Use digital photos to document their comparative anatomy dissections. Students have to have a photo of their organism and their setup. Each group researches and dissects a different specimen. After the dissections, the group then develops a HyperStudio presentation to teach the rest of the class about their specimen. In Anatomy & Physiology, the students stage pictures of the various movements such as flexing and extending then use their pictures for the lab practical.

Language Arts

Journal Writing. Classroom newspapers. Autobiographies.Insert student photos in a biographical poem. A great way to start off

the year and get to know your students. Demonstrate vocabulary, emotions, compare/contrast. Use a photo as a prompt for narrative or descriptive writing. Students take pictures of each other and import them into a word processing document for an "About the Author" page in a student anthology. .Use the digital camera to take photos of students then incorporate the photos into interviews written by other students in the class. (Students are assigned someone to interview and write about.)

Elementary Ideas

Have students insert their photo into a paint document and make themselves a character from a book or cartoon. They erase all but their face and paint the rest of the body with appropriate background and props for this person. Kids love this. Take pictures of students in various activities. The students dictate appropriate text for the picture then create books that they can "read".

A good project for Pre-K and K: Give students a letter of the alphabet. They then have to find an object in the room that begins with that letter. Pre-K can find something of a certain color. Then take pictures of the students holding the object. Under the pictures is the sentence: "_______ is holding a ________. _________ starts with the letter _____." Pages are made into books, laminated and bound. One copy is placed in the school library, one in the classroom and one for the student to take home.

Elementary teachers (K-2) can use a digital camera to create an ABC book. Working in groups, students are assigned a letter of the alphabet. They complete the phrase "__ is for ____." Using different manipulative (cereal, marshmallows, legos, colorful paper cutouts, candy, game pieces) they form the letter on 3' X 3' pieces of colored paper. The kids can add interest to their letter using colors or makers. Then take pictures of their creation. In MS Word or Works, insert the picture and their chosen caption under the picture. You can then bind the book for the class. If you take pictures of each student at the 1st of the year, at Christmas and around the end of the year, you can send these pictures home to the grateful parents. At the beginning of the year before you send the pictures home, you could put the pictures in a notebook so you can learn the student's name and put them on the board so the other students can learn each other. You can play games with them almost like flash cards to learn each other's names. Use them when you study the 5 senses, for sight»scan their picture, distort them and then have the student find their face.

Use student pictures as gifts at Christmas, and Mother's day. Pictures made on the 1st day can be given to each student on the last day of school with a letter from you about how much they have grown and how much you enjoyed having them in your class. Make picture frames out of jar tops hot glue magnets to the back for the refrigerator. When you grow plants you can document the growth with snapshots. If you have different races you can do graphs. How many have ___color hair, how many wear glasses etc.

Special education

Special education students can create a book of their school including pictures of all the classes, teachers, and important people. For severely disabled or emotionally disabled children, the classroom teacher can take pictures of procedure steps. This will help the child remember and follow along on his own. You could print these pictures out in sequence (naturally shrinking them first). Each separate procedure is placed on a 8 1/2 x 11 paper and taped it to the student's desk. "Focus, Click & Write." Use the digital camera to take pictures of the students during various events: classroom parties, science projects, gym, art class, etc. Put two or three photos on a page (use Print Shop Deluxe or other publishing program) and have horizontal lines under them. Have the students express verbally what they see themselves doing in the pictures, and the pictures are actually a "visual cue" for verbal expression, which is then transferred into written expression. This works out wonderfully, and will increase the student's verbal & written expression almost automatically. Start the students with "group writing" and all write the same sentences. Then move on to paragraphs. Finally, have the students do stories where they work independently. Weekly projects seem to work best. For big projects like baking cookies for Christmas take about 24 photos. Cut out the pictures and have the students sequence the photos (another skill they have trouble with). Since you can immediately print photos, you can do a project and have the students sequence the digital photos the same day.

Other ideas

Have students create passports during a travel/culture unit in foreign language Vocational Agriculture can use the digital camera for

step-by-step pictures of projects for competition. Our art teacher makes portfolios of students' work. Art students can use digital photos to

submit pictures of their art for scholarship competition. Illustrate perspectives in art Use pictures of students art projects - one of which

could be to draw a mirror image of themselves based on a digital picture by folding printout in half and trying to draw the other half. Use various art mediums and techniques to draw their self portraits using the printout as a model. Allow students to create stories through various mediums, i.e. clay , paper mache', and take pictures with the camera. They can create slide shows with their finished works. At Thanksgiving, Home Living classes could write Thank you letters to their parents and insert their pictures on the letters. Business Math can take pictures of products for advertising in the school store Use photos for business cards or brochures for career day presentations

Web sites

Some nice examples of the use of digital cameras in the upper elementary classrooms can be found at: (look under Student Projects). Forth grade projects: (the tour of the school was made using Sony Mavica digital cameras to make QuickTime VR movies.) (shows how the project was accomplished). (A game the students made while practicing using the digital cameras.) You can get information from the Kodak (, Connected Classroom - in their conference handout section ( and Adobe ( sites. Ideas for teachers: Kodak site:

Search Tips so you can find more information: You could try to get some altavista search

tips. To narrow your search do key words like "digital camera" then add something like +"digital photograph" or +"lesson plans" or +"file format" or +definitions or +"gif" or +"jpg" or +domain:edu would find good stuff. Kids like seeing other portfolios to get ideas, there are lots here you could do by adding this +portfolio or to your search to find some exemplary online portfolios. Those words in bold and the "" and + are the words you should type in the window of your search engine to narrow your search.

Collected by:
Deborah Duncan
Neshoba Central High School
Philadelphia, MS 39350