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Taking photos and talking about them

child with camera

Babies and children love looking at and taking photos and videos of themselves and familiar people, and it's a great way to get them chatting and to develop their vocabulary.

Talking about photos

With babies:

  • Sit down together and look at some photos. They could be printed out or on your phone or tablet.
  • Try to choose photos of friends, family or pets – people your baby will know.
  • Look at the photos together. Take time to look carefully and chat as you go.
  • Name each person you see. Try describing them to your baby. Mention their hair colour or the clothes they’re wearing.
  • Encourage your child to name the person in the photo. You can tell them what you like about that person and talk about where they live, when you saw them last etc..
  • Ask questions about the photos. Your baby might answer verbally, by pointing or with facial expressions. Even if they don’t answer you, it’s all good practice for looking, listening and speaking.

With older children:

  • Older children will enjoy the above activity too, but as their vocabulary and memory grows you can extend this activity to support them to develop recall and expand their use of language.
  • Look at photos together from an outing or event that happened in the past. It could be a visit to a friend or family member's house or a trip to the park.
  • Chat together about what's happening in the photos or videos, and talk about what else happened that's not in the photo too. For example, you could ask "Do you remember what else we did that day?" or "Do you remember what happened on the way home?"
  • As your child talks, repeat back what they're saying, this shows them that you're listening. Try adding a word or two to model longer sentences to them when you repeat back what they've said. For example, if your child says "I went on swing," you could respond "yes, you went high on the swing."
  • This activity can work really well when the child is sharing photos with a family member who wasn't there when the photos were taken, for example showing Grandma photos of a trip to the park with Daddy.

Children taking photos

When you have time, you could let your child take photos themselves: Let them choose what they photograph or set them a challenge to:

  • photograph some things that are growing
  • photograph some numbers
  • photograph something blue and something red

Remember to value the photos your child takes! They may make some unusual choices about what to photograph, and they may need some practice to refine their skills. But, if you revisit this activity every few weeks you will see surprising improvements.

After your walk, or maybe with a family member or friend invite your child to share the photos and talk about them together. Recalling what happened is a great way to get your child chatting and will build their memory skills. This is also a good way to practice any new words you might have introduced while you were out, for example the name of something you photographed.

Top tip!

Start a memory book with some of the photos you take!

Good to know

Hearing different describing words builds your child’s vocabulary. They learn by listening to you talk.