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Classroom Picture a Day, Time Lapse Photography

resources index > lesson plans > PICTURE A DAY

The Living Earth Art Print (North & South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia)
The Living Earth

animated .gif of Earth's seasonal changes.

Time-lapse photography equipment permits recording scenes / events over a long period of time and play back in a much shorter period, allowing the human brain to assimilate the changes.

Bird, Art Print, Eadweard Muybridge
Birds in Flight,
Eadweard Muyridge

Eadweard Muybridge used a series of cameras to capture the motion of people and animals, his innovation lead to the development of motion pictures.

Before Muybridge's cameras there were devices called ‘zoetropes’ and ‘praxinoscopics’ that also used the same principles of optical illusions for ‘motion pictures’, and then there are flip books of individual pictures that blend into movement as the pages are flipped.

Movie Motion Zoetrope
Movie Motion

Time lapse equipment is expensive but process can be mimicked with a regular or digital camera, and while the idea of taking a single picture on a rigous schedule is daunting, the rewards are considerable for creating teachable moments that are otherwise lost.

Years ago, as a child, I was fascinated by a LIFE magazine story of a father and daughter who had a picture of them together taken on her birthday for years. The experience of examining the changes in the two people provoked thoughts on togetherness, changes to our bodies as a child matures and a parent ages, the changes in our relationships with one another- I even wanted to know about who had taken each picture and were other pictures taken at the same time?

Another photography project that fascinated me was providing children with disposable cameras and the resulting snapshots of the world as they saw it - their eye level, their interests. The same idea has been used to provide insights into the lives of the homeless.

Themes to consider - subjects, time of day, frequency -

  • eliminate as many variables as practical - choose a convenient time - take the photograph from the same location and height. Try a daily photo at lunch time - if it is a posed picture ask the children to stand or sit in the same place relative to one another so identification would be easier and growth more obvious.
  • a daily photograph of each child.
  • a daily photo of a class pet.
  • record the growth of a seed, or bulbs emerging from the ground.
  • select a view from the window and take a picture every day at the same time - I had one classroom in junior high that had a 3rd story view of tree tops and a church steeple - I wish I had a series of pictures to show the change of seasons and I know I share that memory with hundreds of other people who sat in that classroom between 1930 and the time the building was demolished in 2001.
  • snap a picture of a busy location at a regular interval - outside it might be a corner with traffic, a construction site.
  • take your dog for a walk? if you keep a regular route consider snapping a picture every day at the same spot.
  • ask the children to gather all the red (and yellow, blue, green, etc.) things in the room, take a picture, (put the red things back!)
  • clouds, shadows, melting ice
  • make your own “movie” - still photographs melded together with digital software - use clay, toys, draw a picture one line at a time. One of my lessons while student teaching involved finding 8mm film that was being disposed of, stripping the images off with bleach (yes, use an apron) and drawing on the blank frames with india ink - each second of viewing equaled 16 frames, so each tiny image was drawn at least 16 times, a slight change made in the drawing for another 16 frames, and so forth, until there was a very short film.
  • make your own flip book -

With more elaborate video equipment a fast event can be slowed down. . . a match striking, a water balloon breaking.

Montessori classrooms introduce time concepts (year and month) with birthday celebrations where the child walks in a circle around a candle or representation of the sun, while holding a globe.

Exploring Time Gallery

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last updated 12/25/13