Stumped on what type of camera to buy? These cameras take high-quality photos and can handle the adventures your child will photograph.

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Discovery Kids Digital Camera

Best for ages 3-6
This is a great camera for kids to start shooting photos from a young age. The large side handles make it easy for small hands to grip and hold, and the built-in carrying strap makes it easy for kids to tote around. 120 photos and video clips can be stored, and then retrieved with a USB cable. Available on amazon.com for $49.95.

Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Digital Camera

Ages 3 and older
This digital camera is tough enough to stand up to adventurous kids. The two-eye viewing makes it easy for kids to look through and shoot photos, and the memory can store over 2,000 pictures. The back of the camera has large buttons for small fingers. Available on fisher-price.mattel.com for $40.

Kidizoom Camera Pix

Best for ages 3-8
The grippers on the sides make it easy for kids to grab and shoot. More than 35 photo effects and four creative apps are built in, and if kids turn the camera around, it will automatically detect faces for a perfect selfie. Available on vtechkids.com for $39.82.

Nikon Coolpix S33

Best for ages 9 and older
For a durable first “grown-up” digital camera, this waterproof, shockproof and freezeproof device will withstand the beach, pool or amusement park. It also takes clear photos when swimming underwater or while moving quickly on land. Available on nikonusa.com for $109.95.

Kodak FZ43 Friendly Zoom

Best for ages 9 and older
With the one-touch video recording feature, this camera allows users to shoot clear photos and videos. The large LCD screen on the back panel will make it easy to see where you are aiming your photos. This one also comes with a lower price point than other digital cameras on the market. Available on kodakpixpro.com for $79.99.

Go on a Photo Safari

A photography safari, or photo scavenger hunt, is a creative, way to usher your kids away from screens and out into nature. Only about 10 percent of children spend time outdoors everyday, according to The Nature Conservancy. Studies show that kids who spend time outside are more creative in their play, more physically active and have enhanced attention spans.

Select a location

Parks with nature trails, botanical gardens, nature centers and zoos provide plenty of material for a safari. Or start in your own backyard.

Consider the time commitment

Set aside 30 minutes to an hour. Or, if you’re on vacation, turn the safari into a multi-day event.

Gather your supplies

If you don’t have a digital camera and you’re uncomfortable with your child borrowing your phone or iPad, buy a kid-friendly digital camera or a disposable camera. Also, pack sunscreen, bug spray, water and snacks.

Construct your list

Do some advance research on your destination to decide what to include on your list. Maybe you plan to hike in a forest or camp at a national park this summer. Make a list of animals, plants, birds or landscapes to look for. Decide what to put on your list according to the age of your child. If you’re going to the zoo, you might look for animals that are striped, have tusks, swim, waddle, fly, etc.
I kept our list for the park general and stuck to having my kids search for particular colors, shapes and textures. To challenge kids who are already handy with a camera, you might have them hunt for interesting angles, lighting and reflections.

Establish ground rules

Consider how you will structure your hunt: Can you help each other? Is there a time limit to complete the list? Can you photograph only natural objects or are man-made subjects OK? Will you head out together or split into groups? How competitive will the hunt be?

Review and discuss

Go through your photos together and share what you like about each other’s photos. Ask your kids about their favorite shots and why they like them.

Decide if you want friendly competition

You could make your safari a competition with prizes at the end, especially if you’re hosting a large group of kids that you plan to split into teams like a Boy Scout/Girl Scout group or for a birthday party. Dollar stores offer a variety of inexpensive prize options. You might award prizes to teams who captured the funniest, most striking or creative images.

Make it seasonal

Help your kids see the beauty of the changing seasons through the eye of their cameras. They may be surprised about how much nature has to offer even in autumn and winter. Look for colorful leaves or plants covered with frost or a dusting of snow.

On our safari, my sons and I were able to slow down and intentionally observe nature’s quiet rhythm, including wildlife, insects and seasonal plants and colors. Best of all, we simply enjoyed each other’s company.

– Christa Melnyk Hines

 

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