Teaching Colors and Shapes Using Photography


Go ahead, just hand over the camera. Take a break from documenting every adorable moment, and give your child the chance to make a document of her own, and maybe even learn something in the process.

As hard as it may be to imagine, handing your toddler a camera isn’t the world’s worst idea. By the time your kid hits the 18-month mark, they’re ready to roll and ready to explore. Their little fingers want to grab, their nimble minds want to grow, and their inner imps are ready to test boundaries. Taking pictures offers them the freedom and independence they so desperately seek. Using photography to help your child learn colors and shapes and to explore the world around them is a win-win parenting proposition.


If you have a spare digital point-and-shoot camera hogging space on the top shelf of a closet, it’s time to dust that relic off and hand it over into your child’s outstretched hands. And if not, you should be able to find an inexpensive one online. Believe it or not, a camera is a cheap and interactive way to help your child learn shapes and colors.


The technical learning curve will be a quick one for your child: hand them the camera, point to the shutter button, and tell them to push it. Operational instructions complete! What child doesn’t love pushing buttons?


Discovery: Finding Colors and Shapes Through the Lens

While your little one is toddling around, filling the memory card with stuffed animal close-ups, begin making a list of objects by color and another by shape. Let your surroundings be your inspiration. Look around your house, yard and neighborhood for ideas.


Remember, the goal is to have fun with your child and his or her new camera! Let your child find the object, name it, and snap it. If they need some help finding the object, it’s okay to say, “Let’s find a red apple!” or “Look, at that apple! It is red!” And, if necessary, you can help them frame it in the camera’s viewfinder. You’re not looking to win the next Pulitzer Prize for photography, though, give them free reign here.


Now, go run around the house and neighborhood snapping, pointing, naming, clicking, and laughing away. Once your child has mastered colors, it’s time to move on to shapes. Digital photography offers an added bonus: use the camera’s memory to review colors, shapes, and relive the memories! You can also print the photos and make a colorful collage featuring your budding shutterbug’s artistry.

Here are a few quick ideas to get you started:


clown nose
toy car
stop sign
lady bugs



triangle: closet hanger
square: box
circle: orange
oval: eggs
rectangle: table
octagon: stop sign