I don’t exactly remember how or when I learned to read, but I do remember what I loved to read … National Geographic. Apparently I would sit in a way too big for me armchair next to my grandfather thumbing through (and mostly ripping) pages as a toddler. Once I learned how to flip pages properly I would “read” the pictures. I vividly remember one particular picture from an early article on Jane Goodall in Gombe with an orangutan in a small plastic tub getting washed. I couldn’t help but remark how similar we looked. Then as a teenager I would read the articles with the pictures, all the while searching for photos of scantily clad women. 40 years later, I still have my National Geographic subscription but this time I use the pictures to teach.
National Geographic has an awesome archive of photos curated through their Photo of the Day site (linked here) and I use it in myriad ways.
- During morning meeting as a provocation.
- To observe “like a scientist” and draw with detail.
- As a visual to verbalize the sense and add detail to our writing.
- To identify mathematical patterns in nature.
- As poetry prompts.
- To See, Think, and Wonder about the beauty of the world all around us.
Everyone can relate to a picture. There are no language barriers. Differentiation is implicit in the task and the journey we take with the picture. Give it a try and let me know what creative uses you find for National Geographic Photos of the Day in your classroom.