Storytelling Box With Photos

storytelling box Every year we go down to the Oregon Coast and rent a beach house and relax. This year I got to bring along something extra! A brand new Nikon D3300 ! Nikon wanted me to check the camera out and I jumped at the chance, I started playing with it as soon as it arrived.  I knew that when Nikon asked me to share the photos I took with the D3300 with my readers I wasn’t just going to throw them in a post, I wanted to show you how I used the vacation photos for a simple but very effective literacy activity. Storytelling.

Before you can make your box you need to shoot some great photos. I am not a photographer but I have always enjoyed taking photos and know that taking many is a great strategy for getting just the right shot! Here are some of my favorites that went into our storytelling box – trust me these are just a few that I took.



The view from the window seat – Taken with my Nikon D3300


Taken with my Nikon D3300

Making sand angels – Taken with my Nikon D3300

It's a big big world - Taken with my Nikon D3300

It’s a big big world – Taken with my Nikon D3300


Taken with my Nikon D3300

Taken with my Nikon D3300

oregon coast vacation storytelling

Oregon Coast Taken with my Nikon D3300

Jumping tide pools - Taken with my Nikon D3300

Jumping tide pools – Taken with my Nikon D3300


shells - Taken with my Nikon D3300

shells – Taken with my Nikon D3300


Jump - Taken with my Nikon D3300

Jump – Taken with my Nikon D3300


vacation photo box

Catch at the beach – Taken with my Nikon D3300


Running out of the waves - Taken with my Nikon D3300

Running out of the waves – Taken with my Nikon D3300


vacation photo storytelling box for kids

Checking out one of the instruments the beach house had – Taken with my Nikon D3300


Shells from the beach - Taken with my Nikon D3300

Shells from the beach – Taken with my Nikon D3300


When it comes down to it, they adore each other. Taken with my Nikon D3300

When it comes down to it, they adore each other. Taken with my Nikon D3300


Once you have all your favorites chosen print them out or have them printed at a photo lab. I am a last minute sort of gal so I did it myself.  Very late at night… don’t know about you but that is my time to check off all the items on my to do list.

Gather your materials. You will need the photos you took, a box, some card stock, glue, and scissors.

making a storytelling box

Taken with my Nikon D3300


Cut the photos out and glue them onto the card stock then trim. Pop them in the box and set them out for your little storyteller.

Do you use your family photos for activities? Tell is about it on our Facebook page!

As stated above I was provided with a Nikon D3300 in return for sharing this post.


DIY Action Figure Story – Writing For Kids

simple kid made book writing activity Getting my son to read is no problem but when it’s time to write or draw he’s not as interested. Part of the reason is his expectations are much higher than his actual writing and drawing ability which are right on par with his age. I often feel the same way. One way to combat this but to still get him creating his own stories is to use descriptive photographs. For this book my son and I decided to use his Playmobil figurines and Melissa & Doug Castle and use the camera to shoot pictures of the action. This let my son focus on the story and not the illustrating. Don’t get me wrong drawing is important but choosing a few goals at once when it’s something challenging helps achieve those goals instead of piling on the frustration.  This is not part of our learning after school series because this took us a good hour and that series of posts are devoted to short activities to do after school. However it’s a great weekend activity for school age kids. For more tips on writing books with kids check out this guest post from The Reading Mama.

Start by deciding what you are going to use for your photographs. Action figures work well because you can pose them but you can use anything!kid made book working on set up

Next decide on your story.Set up the shots and shoot! Each shot will be it’s own page in the story. kid made book with action figures

After shooting look through the photos and decide which to keep and which to ditch. Print each photo with plenty of space to write under it . action figure books for kids

Choose a title and make a cover. kid made book with action figures

Time to write but before you do go through the photos and have your child tell the story. This works as a mental first draft. kid made playmobil book

Let them write it but help if they ask. I have a firm belief in invented spelling and encourage my son to sound out the words and write them how they sound. I know it can be hard to see your child write something incorrectly but spelling is developmental and this will help them develop a firmer understanding than simply memorizing. Telling them how to spell a word here or there will not harm them at all but allowing them lots of opportunities to work on it is beneficial.

kids made playmobil writing activity

Read to someone special. He was so proud to read it to his dad. kid made action figure book reading with daddy


Writing like reading is a non negotiable. If your child isn’t into soccer or jazz dance it’s not going to hurt them in the long run but not liking reading and writing will. So finding ways to make it fun is worth the effort.

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Neighborhood Photo Safari & Photo Book For Kids

After making our Alphabet Photo Magnets my so has been asking to get a chance to use my camera again. Today we went all around town and took photos of places that we go to or past often. The power of this activity is to relate the photos in the book to the photo safari and previous experiences at each location. The book itself is simple but each page is much more than it’s text. The photos will prompt storytelling by even the youngest child. My daughter talked her way through 3 consecutive readings . Making the book was also a great learning experience for my son and while there are much more polished options like photo books from places like  snapfish and keepsy doing it all by hand is valuable too.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some page protectors , a report cover or small binder , a camera, a clip board, paper and marker. You will also need a printer and a template for the book. You can  download it here , it’s very simple but effective.
  2. Get ready with a list of where you need to go.
  3. Get buckled in and don’t forget your camera.
  4. As we went around town my son took the photos and checked them off the list.
  5. At the fire station we expected to just take a photo but they invited us in and it was by far the highlight for both my kids.
  6. Taking the photos was fun but walking around town with each other was pretty awesome too.
  7. At home print out the book pages and the photos.  Grab some scissors and glue too.
  8. Cut the photos out. Cutting is a really important skill for kids to master especially around my son’s age ( just about to go to kindergarten) so I really wanted him to do as mush of the cutting as possible.
  9. After they are cut add the glue.
  10. Slide into the page protectors and into the report cover.
  11. Read. I am kicking myself for not getting a photo of my daughter reading but she was wiped by the day and took a monster nap. By the time she woke I was knee deep in dinner prep. but I could hear her telling her dad ” Again! ” as they read it over and over.


In the Town All Year ‘Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner is amazing.It’s premise are the comings and goings of a town in all four seasons. There is limited text, which serves only to steer readers to look for specific people in the highly detailed illustrations. Each season has multiple pages and the people remain constant throughout the seasons. So you see inside an apartment building , the town square, the park, railroad station etc… in every season. You see the changes in town, the progression and of course the distinct weather in each section. The pictures also progress within the seasons, so a fire truck with a flashing light can be seen on every page in one season with the last page showing it getting to the fire . I can’t possibly explain the amazing detail and sheer number of things to find, make up stories about and spark your child’s imagination in this book. My son adores it. After renewing it multiple times from our library I bought it as his 2010 Valentine’s gift. It goes everywhere with us, perfect for long drives , waits in the Ob’s waiting room and plain old playtime he picks it up every day and finds something new.

What I really love is that because there is no text but still multiple story lines it’s helped my son to understand that literacy isn’t just about words, it about explaining what’s going on, and reading the pictures too. The absence of text has allowed me to really show him that . Now he has started grabbing books with text and telling me he’d read me the pictures, which boosts both his confidence and his enjoyment of independent reading.

Edited for 2011: My son is still crazy over this book. When I am desperate for him to chill out so I can get my daughter down for a nap nothing keeps him occupied ( and quiet) like this book. It’s magic!

Edited for 2012 : My daughter has now started to enjoy this book too. She loved finding the baby in each page.

Preschool Photo Safari

This is such a great shot of a sculpture outside our pediatrician's office.

My son loves taking pictures and when I upload craft pictures I usually find one or two photos of his playmobil vehicles in the mix. Last month we had a busy day , a day when he was going to be dragged around all day as I checked off a long to do list. So to ease the ants in his pants I gave him my camera and the instructions to take lots of pictures. It was a huge success.

The next day we sat down together to upload the pictures and decide which to put in the book, going from 47 to 27 pictures . This was a really interesting process talking to him about which pictures to keep and which to delete. His reasoning was really fascinating. If you want you can make your collection into a book or slide show like we did.

Here  are some of his favorite shots .

This was a fun exercise to see through my son’s eyes, and it kept him engaged on a day packed with errands. It also gave him something to be responsible for, he was so good at making sure he had the camera everywhere we went.  What do you think your child would snap photos of during a regular day at your house or running around town?