Create Your Own Backyard Field Guide
Children love cameras and children love nature. Combine the two and you have with a wonderful project to fill your days. We are going to create our own backyard field guides using nature photography. Consider the time of year and the age of your children / students. Think how the seasons can be incorporated into a field guide?
Allow children to be the lead on this project and follow their own interests. Do you have a child who is interested in insects? Help them create a backyard insect field guide. Other ideas are trees, wildflowers, birds, biodiversity, or even clouds and weather. Inventory and photograph the subjects you have chosen. Bring a notebook with you and have children record their observations of what they have photographed.
Once back inside, go through the photographs with your children and let them decide which photos to include in their field guide.
With your children identify each subject that you are going to include in your backyard field guide. There are great field guides online and at your local library. Allow children time to look through field guides to get an idea of what they look like, and what information is included in each. Decide what information you are going to include in your backyard field guide.
Create your field guides by printing pictures and descriptions and creating a journal. An old notebook or photo album will work. You could also create a photo book through a website such as Snapfish and have an actual book created and mailed to you. You now have a field guide for your own backyard!
Want to expand your field guide? Create a nature field guide for your neighborhood or community, your favorite camping site, local park, or even the nature on a vacation trip!
If you are using a tablet or phone, your children may already be familiar with the camera. If you are using a digital camera, start with the basics and expand as their interest grows. For younger children keep it simple. Older children who have experience with cameras may be interested in learning more about shutter speeds and lighting.
There are several kinds of children’s cameras available; however, they generally do not take quality photos. You can get a cheap “adult” camera that will take better photos for the same price. Base your decision on the age of the children and how much “rough and tumble” action the camera will see – kid’s cameras are built to withstand drops and rougher handling. You can also allow children to use your camera with supervision or purchase disposable cameras for each child.
More Fun Nature Photography Ideas for Kids
- Photography scavenger hunts: alphabet, botany, textures, shapes
- Themed photography walks: butterflies, beetles, birds, trees, wildflowers
- Personal photo book: allow each child to review their pictures and print off or create a personal photo book of their favorites
- Nature Journal: Add your nature photos to your nature journal