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It changes, day by day and year by year. As it should. I love to watch her eyes light up as she thinks about the possibilities in front of her – what will she see and do and be. In her eyes and mind, dance visions of sugarplums, mountaintops and castles. She thinks about being a doctor, a teacher, a mother, a princess. In a world in which you really can be a princess – literally and figuratively – I have never told her anything other than this – “You have beautiful options spread out in front of you.”
When Scarlet first picked up my camera, two years ago this spring, she already had a knack for it. My camera is professional-level, heavy and clunky in her hands, and full of buttons and settings she might not begin to explore for years – but the eye sees what the eye sees. And she wants her visions to be seen by others. This is her first portrait of me. She was four.
She has picked up knacks and loves for things over the years – and many of them have stayed, and will continue to stay. She loves photography, she loves reading and writing, and she loves all things Disney Princess. We go to Disney World every year, and have her meet the princesses. She has a room full of active toys that she engages in imaginative play with, and the Disney Princesses inspire her to stop at nothing to achieve her dreams. She can think of something brave about each princess.
Scarlet most dreams about photographing northern lights, albino moose, regular moose and blue whales. She also dreams about big boats, great white sharks and magic fairies. When she talks about northern lights, she brings up Rapunzel and her search to see the glowing lanterns. When Scarlet talks about quests, she thinks about Merida’s journey to put things right with her family. These strong-willed, dreaming princesses are being watched by my strong-willed, dreaming little girl. Passionate about emotions and the arts, she is so her parent’s daughter. I am honored that she has chosen photography as an interest.
In October, we went on a trip to Maine to see moose. We saw six moose, which was amazing, and since I had just bought a new camera, I let Scarlet walk side by side with me and I let her use my old camera. She was a natural!
Inspired by this experience with my daughter, I decided to put together a list of ten photography activities you can do with children, to teach them about photography, but also to teach them about our wonderful world. It means everything.
You can easily find childproof cameras out there, that are more durable. If your children are older or more responsible, you can find inexpensive point and shoots. Scarlet uses my phone camera and even my backup DSLR, with my supervision.
- Create a story. Have your child take a photograph of anything – indoors or outdoors – and then write a story about it. Scarlet is in first grade, and is getting into stories. I imagine the love for writing will grow.
Letter art. Have you ever seen those framed photos of letter art that are used to spell out last names or something similar? Kids can create letter photo art by looking for objects that look like letters. They can do the alphabet!
Color recognition. This is great for a younger child, or for a child with a younger sibling. Have your child walk around your house or outside and photograph things of a certain color. Perhaps they can create their own rainbow.
I Spy! This can be like a scavenger hunt too. You can create a list of 10-20 household or yard items. Give your child the camera and have them search for the items and photograph them as they find them. Make it challenging!
Make an art gallery! My mom teaches week-long art classes for children in the summer and holds an “art gallery reception” at the end of the week, with refreshments and the children’s art on the walls. Why not do this? We have an expensive photo printer, but prints are also pretty cheap. Print your child’s photography, frame them and present them at an “art show.”
- A photo essay about a toy. Have your child pick a favorite toy, come up with a story about the toy on an adventure, and have them photograph the toy “out and about” for the day.
The people of your life. Have your child take photos of friends, extended family members, and other important people. You can make a memory photo album with the prints. Bonus points for doing a “day in the life” project with your child.
Take another step. Have your child take 50 steps in any one direction and come up with a composition. Have them take a photograph from where they are standing. It’s fun to have more than one person do this to see different perspectives.
9. Self portraits. This is another idea borrowed from my mom’s art school, where they draw and paint self portraits. It would be really interesting to see how your child views themselves, by taking self portraits with a camera.
- Intro to editing. There are free photo editing programs, like PicMonkey, which are easy to use and have fun editing features that kids can use. This can be really fun for them to learn about editing and storytelling.
The in-store Toys “R” Us experience is immersive and rewarding – with an aisle dedicated to Disney Princess with exclusive options. The “Dream Big, Princess” campaign provides a positive message to all girls, that they can be anything they want to be. They should never stop dreaming big. Disney Princess encourage girls to be kind, unique, caring, strong, and brave.
We have Sing & Shimmer with Princess Jasmine. She is dressed in a beautiful dress with a sparkling tiara, and she sings “A Whole New World” when you press her jeweled necklace. (Des likes to do that repeatedly)
We have several gorgeous Disney Princess Royal Shimmer Dolls. All eleven princesses are available in the shimmer doll line. They come with removable shoes, shimmering gowns in signature colors, and movie-inspired features.
We also have the Little Kingdom Ariel’s Sea Castle. It’s compatible with all the other items in the Little Kingdom line, including dolls of other princesses. The doll is three inches tall and can sit or stand. She can also slide, swing, and strap into the seaweed harness. The castle comes with five snap-ins to mix and match for a unique look.
Our Disney Princess toys from Toys “R” Us will continue to inspire Scarlet to follow her dreams, and to develop her photography, writing, and storytelling skills. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next. The sky is the limit.