By Karen Nemeth, Ed.M

One way to introduce your children to your family traditions and special events is through the photographs you take. Those pictures are filled with people, places, and things that preserve memories. And, they give everyone a lot to talk about in Spanish and English1. Here are some ideas for how to use photos to make fun learning activities that also help your children learn about and develop pride in their culture.

  • Create a collection of photos showing family members at the same age that your child is now. Notice the difference in clothing, hairstyles, and objects in the background. Talk about the differences they can see between the past and the present.
  • Take your children on a tour around your home to look at photos on your walls or tables. Do they know the names of all the people in the photos? Do they know their relationship to those people? Help them understand their connections to the past.
  • Find photos that show different family celebrations over the years. How have things changed? How have they stayed the same? Take the opportunity to talk about the details of how your family likes to celebrate. What is the role of religion? What kinds of foods are saved for special occasions? How does everyone like to spend the time? What decorations make the celebration festive? Share with your children how you celebrated family celebrations when you were a child. You might want to have your children speak directly with their grandparents to learn even more about their heritage.
  • Cut out photos of people and tape them on to blocks or small boxes so they become characters in your children’s block play, Lego buildings, or pretend time. Tell your children stories you remember about your family (especially the older generations) and the traditions they observed.
  • Make a study of places with your photos. See if you can find photos of the same place during different seasons. Or, look for photos of a place to see how it has changed over the years. This is a great way to give your children a sense of place and historical context so they can be curious about and interested in where they came from.
  • Share photos and the stories that go with them during a video chat with family members. Take notes in English and/or Spanish to save the wonderful family stories that bring you all together across the miles.
  • Print copies of photos to make into games and activities for your children. You can make a memory game by printing two copies of each picture. Or glue an attractive photo onto some cardboard and cut apart to make a simple puzzle. Make a guessing game or scavenger hunt by asking children to look at a whole collection of photos and find an animal, or a person wearing glasses, or a baby, or a fur coat, or anything you think will be fun.
  • You can use these fun family activities to build in some valuable literacy time. Older children can write stories about the pictures in English and Spanish. Younger children can practice writing the names or you can print labels for the pictures and help them learn to read the words.

Try some of these activities that you can do right now without leaving your home. Your whole family – even the ones who participate by video chat – will celebrate your collective history and shared future.

Karen Nemeth, Ed.M.
Is an expert in first and second language development and early learning and she hosts a well-known resource website at www.languagecastle.com. She has written more than twelve books and many articles for teachers, leaders, and families, including her newest book -Families & Educators Together: Building Great Relationships that Support Young Children.She works with many programs, schools, and organizations as a consultant and presenter throughout the U.S. and other countries.