This may sound weird, but Google Image Search is a really cool thing you can do on the computer with little ones. I’ve often spent time with a pre-schooler on the chair next to me and a baby on my lap looking at the pictures. It’s a bit like a choose your own adventure novel, you start with the word you’re searching for, but who knows what site you’ll end up on and where you’ll go. Unfortunately that is the down side, you really do need to be with them when letting them loose, or have some sort of protective software. I once ended up on a white supremacist site while looking for photos of planets. Nothing nasty and nothing the kids would have understood anyway, but a bit of a shock!
Fun things to do:
- Obviously – search for whatever your kids are interested in! Baby dragons, ponies, pandas and fairies are all things we’ve searched for.
- Help little ones write words for themselves. My daughter is 3 and has pretty good letter recognition for the ones she commonly uses. She can type many things spelled out to her.
- Challenge their stereotypes. We all have certain pictures in our heads of particular things. A search gives you many different images and can make you think about things differently.
- Use the pictures to illustrate your own stories. Save them and print them onto paper, then your kids can either write or type their own story or tell you what to write for them. Self-made books are brilliant for pre-reading and early readers, in fact they’re great for any age.
- I know I go on about themed play, but it makes your life so much easier. And for kids at school you will find they have a theme, so for someone who is reluctant to get into their homework a look through the pictures may spark an interest or give them an idea. Pretty much any website that has information at a level appropriate for kids will have images, so an image search is another way to get them to find things, rather than a boring Google search where most of the sites are above their heads.
- Let school kids use them to illustrate their work. I can’t draw and used to hate that aspect of homework, a few images back then would have made my life much more pleasant. If they are finding, choosing, resizing, placing and printing the images, aren’t they learning at least as much as if they draw them for themselves? (But don’t try this for an art class.)
- Use them to explain things in a way little kids can understand. I’m currently trying to teach my almost 4 year old to pay attention to other people’s feelings – when your little sister is yelling and crying, stop! We’ve looked at happy faces, sad faces and angry faces (and made them ourselves!) to try to help her awareness and teach her what to look for. I strongly believe it is important to give our kids as wide a range of emotional cues as we can – kids experience the emotions they can describe, they need lots of options.
What other uses could you find for Image Search?
*This is ironic, but the images here don’t come from Google Image Search. They come from a site I use called Dreamstime with high quality copyright-free images. For your kids at home you can use pretty much anything you find, but if you are publishing the pictures, even on the internet, make sure they don’t belong to someone else.
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