Seven Ways to Use Photos In the Classroom
The following list provides teachers with creative ways to integrate photographs from Dakota County into their curriculum. Check the "Printer Friendly Photo Gallery" on the Dakota County Historical Society web site to access suitable photos or use some of your own. The activities can be applied to just about any old photograph.
Activities shown below are designed for a wide range of thinking skills. They generally increase in complexity and time required. For instance, the first few activities are meant for use in the primary grades; the latter ones crafted for older students interested in conducting research.
1. Divide the class into groups of 4 or 5 students. In each group, have one student choose a picture and write the first few lines of a round-robin story. Then have a second student choose another image and continue the story, and so on. Have each group present their story to the class, and ask other class members to try and identify which photographs the group used as the basis for their story.
2. Have each student choose one photograph and create a story from the point of view of someone in the photo. Then ask them to rewrite the story from another point of view. Have students share their stories with classmates
3. To students: Study the photos that depict life on a farm. Imagine you are living on a farm in about 1900. Write a diary entry describing a typical day for you from "sun up" to "sun down." What do you see? What do you hear? What types of activities are you involved in during the day? When you are finished, compare your diary entry to one you might write today. How are they similar? How are they different?
4. To students: Select a partner. Choose one photograph individually (different than your partner), and take about 5 minutes to write a paragraph describing what you see. Then switch photos with your partner and do the same thing with the new image. When you are finished, compare your two paragraphs with your partner's. What did you both include in your descriptions? Why? How are your impressions different? Why? What would happen if you combined your descriptions into one? What would happen if you did this with a larger group? Why?
5. To students: Use several photographs to study fashion trends. How has fashion changed over time? How do clothing styles reflect people's work, values, and roles in society? What clothing styles have carried over into present times?
6. To students: Use old photographs to trace the development of an invention over time (ex. automobiles, tractors, appliances, etc.). What do the photos tell you about the technology, tools, and materials available through time? Who used the invention in the past? Who does today?
7. To students: Make a hypothesis about the uses of an unknown object pictured in a photograph. Use online and library research to support or refute the hypothesis. Make a presentation to the class to "show and tell" the object, hypothesis, search methods, and results.