Kindergarten Teacher

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Three fun ways to use the digital camera to build early math skills

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This is also cross-posted at PBS Kids Math Lab

The digital camera has always been my favorite tech tool because it can give the child a voice in their learning. Nothing is more powerful than giving kids some control and choice in activities, and the digital camera lends itself to that well.  Since most teachers and parents already have a camera and there is little to no cost involved with taking pictures, I believe it is a highly underused tool.

Here are my three favorite ways to help kids learn math using the camera:

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1. Recognizing Patterns  Identifying, creating and completing patterns can help kids learn important problem solving and mathematical reasoning skills. PBS KIDS has a great app called Dinosaur Train Camera Catch that helps young kids work on patterns while practicing how to take pictures. My favorite part of the app is that the kids have to spin and move around to find the dinosaurs, so they won’t just be sitting while playing.

Another way to learn about patterns with the camera is by simply taking pictures of manipulatives: toys or other items your child is interested in. In my kindergarten class the students have access to a camera anytime and they often use them to document patterns. To extend the activity, you can print the images and have the kids label the patterns ABAB, ABCABC, etc.

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2. Sequencing In my class, I always have a photographer in charge of taking pictures during our special activities. I print those images and use them as a literacy center. We also use the images to review vocabulary and practice ordinal words.  A great way to introduce sequencing for preschool children is to allow them to document parts of their day with a camera. Start with routines like getting ready in the morning and build on the concept. The key is allowing the kids to take the images and decide what images are important for the story. I have found that encouraging them to take many pictures is best; you can always work together to select the best images later.

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3. Number Sense For the youngest learners the camera can be used to find sets of items that match a number or even the numeral itself.  This is a fun way to keep kids engaged while shopping, at the grocery store or even driving in the car. Give them a camera, a number and let them go. As the kids get a better grasp of numbers and start working on breaking down numbers or addition, the camera is an amazing tool for documenting that learning.  One activity we repeat often in my class is called “Number of the Day.” I write a number on the board and the kids use simple objects, such as blocks, to show me different ways to create that number. They use the camera to document their ideas and then we work together as a class to write the math facts for each image.

These activities are only a few of the many uses the digital camera has in helping kids learn, practice and explore math topics while having fun.

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