What’s In A Picture Frame?
Picture frames offer rich learning opportunities when incorporated into children’s play. These simple household objects communicate so much, both to a viewer and to a creator.
Think about the traditional use of picture frames. What do they signify? Usually, we frame objects that are important. Framing lets an audience know these items are special, cherished, and something we are proud of. When we use picture frames in conjunction with play, we let children know their work is valuable. By framing children’s play, we honour their learning, their ideas, and their perspective - all with the use of a single material!
Picture Frames and Loose Parts
Picture frames aren’t just for children’s drawings! When picture frames are paired with loose parts, such as sticks, stones, gems, or coins, they provide children with a visual play cue rather than a verbal one. They may jumpstart children’s play by giving them a designated space to “fill” with their ideas and explorations. This set-up literally helps children frame their ideas, letting them know the discoveries and connections made inside are important.
Picture frames offer an open-ended play experience that encourages children to explore materials in new ways. They allow children to sort, combine, and manipulate objects freely, with no specific goal or outcome. Some children may work on math skills through sorting or experimenting with symmetry. Other children may use the same materials to represent something they saw or experienced that day. Regardless of how children use these materials, picture frames offer a new way to experience the materials inside.
Picture frames are the perfect opportunity to document your child’s learning through photographs and videos. Revisiting this documentation helps both you and your child understand their learning process and reflect on their learning journey.
An Invitation to Play
Here are some tips for setting up your own “invitation to play” using picture frames:
- Choose engaging complementary materials. Combine empty picture frames with loose parts, natural materials, or paint. Try working with a theme or idea that your child is interested in, like dinosaurs, space, or nature. Selecting items of different sizes, textures, and colours allows for broad exploration.
- Set materials up in an inviting way. Designate a clear space that provides easy to access materials. You can even start by setting up a few items within the frame as an invitation to use the space. Consider using multiple frames of different sizes.
- Pair frames with inspiring images, books, or environments. Place inspiring books and images nearby. For example, you may wish to combine books about space with stars and rockets, or pictures of famous paintings with art supplies. You can change up the environment by taking frames with you on a nature walk. You can experiment with materials you find along the way or create paintings inspired by your surroundings.
- Document your child’s play experience. Pictures, videos, and written descriptions allow you and your child to re-experience their play, build on their learnings, and understand their experiences.