Camp Ipad Photography: Chalk

Is there anything that represents the innocence and glory of childhood like sidewalk chalk? Watching the kids draw on the ground, and building, with chalk brought tears to my eyes. It was adorable. Then, they photographed the chalk and we got some very interesting shots. Especially since they already learned worm’s eye view, and got that yummy shallow depth of field.

With the older kids I showed several examples of how chalk can create a fun illusion that they can interact with. I made it very friendly, for all ages and abilities. They could draw something intricate or simply use color and shapes and photograph the chalk in compositionally interesting ways.

Photo Jul 25, 11 42 10 AM

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Camp Ipad Photography: Lines, Shapes, Shadows

Lines, Shapes and Shadows. You don’t have to do all three in one day, especially if it isn’t sunny. This summer I did lines and shapes first, then shadows another day.

With little kids you can show images and ask what shape they see, to get them practicing their shapes. You can also introduce horizontal versus vertical lines as well. This is great to do in a classroom too, especially PK-K since there are so many toys and things in there.

I do encourage my students to play with editing, trying the different preset filters on the iPad. With the older students you can show them how to access the editing buttons and explain what saturation, contrast and what it means to adjust the shadows and highlights separately. In the past, with cameras, I switched them all to black and white mode and we photographed in that mode all year.

Camp Ipad Photography: Texture

Good Old Texture! Always a great way to get new photographers up close and personal with their subjects! With younger kids I ask them to feel things around them and describe the texture. Lumpy, bumpy, scratchy, etc. We can make a list. If something is too smooth it probably won’t make a good texture picture. A successful texture picture is one that you can almost feel by looking at it.

With the iPad this is a good time to explain tap to focus. When you tap on the screen at your subject, the camera will make it super focused and you can see all that fabulous detail and texture. With a regular camera if there is a macro setting this would be a good time to turn it on.

Camp Ipad Photography: Point Of View

I always begin photography with Point of View. Right away I want my students to get into the habit of getting down low like a worm, or up high like a bird. This gets them close to their subjects and thinking about what angle to best shoot something from.

Before I even hand them cameras we talk about how a worm and bird see the world. If you were a worm in this room, where would you be? I ask for volunteers to physically show us how to be a worm. This brings them straight to the floor. I explain how photographers get down and dirty if they have to get the best point of view.

Next, I ask them how a bird sees the world: from above. I ask them how they would be a bird in our room? Student volunteers will carefully stand on a table or chair. We talk about how we can be high up around the school, or even just standing over someone who is sitting. I tell them how if I were to photograph a party I would try to get a bird eye view of everyone dancing and I might stand on a chair to get the whole room.

In the past, I have taught this lesson without cameras. Following the above intro I have given out paper cameras so students can get used to looking through a view finder. Then, I handed out paper so they can draw a bird’s eye or worm’s eye view. Next class they got the cameras and they were super ready to be worms and birds.

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Pinch Pot Creatures


Time to get messy! We used self drying clay which was surprisingly successful! I showed them the work or Joan Miró and Romero Britto to show how painters have turned their work into sculpture. It was the last project of the year with 7th grade and I wanted them to just have fun with it!

After the introduction of the artists I let them experiment with the clay for the rest of the period. I gave them prompts such as: create something nature inspired, create something man made inspired, and crest something Miró or Britto inspired. Be prepared for the falic jokes which is inevitable. 

Day 2 I showed them how to make a pinch pot and how to coil using slip and score. Then I showed them how to add eyes, noses, feet etc! 

They had a lot of fun with their creatures and later painted them with acrylic paint! 

Encourage using newsprint under their clay for quicker clean up! 

Valentine Jim Dine

Fun and quick Valentine’s Day project I did with PK. I showed the work. By Jim Dine and we talked about how they thought he made his paintings. I love them because they are messy but controlled. 

I told the little ones to use a stamping methods with the brush. We used Paint Cakes, my favorite. They were familiar with the paint cakes and how to use them properly. I told them to work with one color at a time. Wet the brush, load up the brush with paint, and gently go up and down, up and down stamping color onto their hearts. Once the paint rain out, wash your brush and pick a new color. 

As they finished at different times I had another table set up with colored paper and crayons. They washed up and picked a color and scribble scrabbled all over the paper with different colored crayons. 

I quickly glued the hearts to the backgrounds and they were able to take their Valentines home that day! 

Mixing Primary into Secondary

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You would be surprised how many children and adults do not know which primary colors make the secondary. I did two versions of this lesson for the younger elementary kids and the older ones.

The younger kids, 1st grade-2nd, did the ice pops. I did find the lesson online but I changed it up a little. We did this following our How to use a brush Winter Style lesson. I did just a lesson on mixing colors on white paper. I told them we were going to make magic today. The paint brush is your magic wand. We started out by making sure our brushes were super clean. We put some yellow on the paper, cleaned the brush, put a tiny amount of blue on the tip, said the magic words and they mixed green. They were really amazed. Same things with yellow and red for orange, make sure you reinforce just dipping the tip of the brush into the red (and blue) because they are such strong colors. Last we do red and blue to make purple.

I closed this lesson by having the kids take a look around the table at their friend’s colors. Are all the greens exactly the same? Some are more yellow and some are more blue. Why? This is how you can introduce the intermediate colors. Why would you want a green that is more blue? Why would you want a green that is more yellow? This can be a nice conclusion.

The older kids, 3rd through 5th, did the color wheels. They already knew the primary and secondary colors. We traced a circle on white paper, used rules to draw 3 lines through the circle, and outlined in sharpie. Then as a class we painted in the primary colors, skipping a space between each color. So you have red, blank, yellow, blank, blue, blank. This is where they mess up. Some kids will just go again and know that they two colors surrounding the blank spaces need to be mixed in there, so red and yellow to make orange in the middle. Others you have to do it step by step.

Moving on to the Ice Pops. I actually got observed for this lesson, and because it was a step by step process it was deemed not creative enough. Which is fine, but I think the lesson served its purpose because after all the kids knew exactly how to make orange, green and purple, and they had fun. I pre-drew the ice pop shape, and even color coded labeled them with Y O R, for yellow, orange, red. They already had an introduction to mixing so it was applying last weeks skills. I still did it step by step so no one was left behind. Some kids liked painting the top, then bottom, then mixing the middle. Others painted the whole top and middle yellow then added red on the bottom going up to make the orange middle. Depends on the students.

The background was choosing horizontal, vertical or diagonal lines in a pattern. So before they did that we reviewed all those words. We used PAINT CAKES! My favorite. And any colors they wanted. Cut, glue, done.