At this unusual time, we wanted to be able to assist parents looking for homeschooling ideas which could be both useful for the here and now but might also be able to help kids in the long run.
We are therefore putting together a selection of ideas that can give you some ideas for kids that have shown an interest in media, or in particular content, design and photography (though it’s fair to say these skills are also of value for anyone and everyone in the world we live in).
We’ve kept things simple: these ideas are aimed at seven to ten-year-olds but could arguably work as a beginners’ course for anyone else.
We hope you find these useful (and give you some respite!)
Homeschooling ideas: Print design
From Rich Berry, Art Director at Dialogue
Just creating a design is like asking someone to just write some words, so firstly, you need a ‘brief’ for your children to answer to – as any design agency would receive from a client.
This should be the idea behind the design, how you want it to look and who is the audience. Obviously, this doesn’t have to be that sophisticated but it could be an invitation to a family film night, a poster for a magic show, a logo for their class or even something to display in your window for others to see.
Children are much more creative than many adults, so encourage them to think about what they would like to create and design. Is it a poster for adults or children, does it need to include any particular colours etc. When your child understands what they want to create, encourage them to think about what they could use to create their design e.g. photos, drawing or painting and on what medium, paper or digitally?
Once they have decided on what ‘it’ is, use the following steps to help support them in creating their masterpiece. For the purpose of this guide, we will focus on a poster for a family film night.
Does the idea need a title? If so, a brainstorm is a great way to gather ideas, help them by writing down everything that springs to their mind when thinking about their theme. Do any words jump out at them as being favourites? Can they be put into a title?
For our film night poster we could think about popcorn, film, cinema, pictures, Disney, ticket, nachos, Ben & Jerry’s. We quite fancy Popcorn Pictures as the name for our family film night poster!
If your child is struggling with ideas of how to start their design, support them in doing some research online using places like Pinterest or Google images. Even the greatest designers and artists need inspiration to create their next masterpiece.
If your child finds something they like ask them how they could change or improve it.
3. Sketch out the idea
Before you go near a computer, or put paint to paper, sketch out your idea using simple shapes to represent the final artwork.
For example, designers use a square box with a cross in the middle going point to point to represent a photo in a layout.
What do you want your audience to look at first? This is called ‘hierarchy’. Do you want them to look at the title, an image or both?
Whatever you want them to look at first, make sure it is at the top of the page or takes up the largest amount of space – this is called the focal point. Next lead the audience through the rest of the information you have, in order of importance – the layout should flow in this order.
Our poster includes the cinema name (Popcorn Pictures) followed by the film title, date and time of showing as the most important information.
Imagery is the industry term for photos and graphics. If you are obtaining photos or images from the internet and they are not quite the right shape or size for what you need, don’t be afraid to crop them.
Think about picture choice too – if you took away all the words and left just the image, do you think the audience would understand what your design is about? If the answer is no, you may want to look for a different image.
We spend lots of time trying to choose a font that we think looks good on our design work. Fun fact – lots of people love Comic Sans, but most designers don’t! It was invented over 30yrs ago to be a casual ‘goofy’ font but has since made its way into serious documents, making them look fun and childlike.
There are so many fonts out there – have fun with them but don’t get carried away, no truer thing has been said when we say “less is more”. Look for a font that matches your design rather than picking something that you just like.
We use Adobe CC to create animations, videos, layouts and pieces of art but there are plenty of other pieces of software out there that don’t require a premium subscription.
Canva is a great, free and easy to use tool that even comes with a selection of helpful templates to get you started.
8. But most importantly…
Have fun! Design is meant to be fun – it won’t save the world, but it sure makes it look good. Think of adding some humour to your work, can you include something that only a few people in your family would understand?
Home schooling ideas: Learn photography
From Rupert Burroughes, Cross platform creative at Dialogue
Why not nurture your kids’ creativity and have a go at photography? You don’t need a fancy camera – most mobile phones have cameras with a whole host of advanced settings to play with. Take a look at our tips below and get snapping!
1. Pick a challenge
Setting photography challenges is a great game. It can be something as simple as snapping five blue things from around the house, photographing three things that make you happy or getting the best photo you can without moving from the spot you’re standing in.
2. Play with depth of field
This is a great (and easy) way to get professional-looking photos. Simply put something close to the camera and watch everything else blur!
3. Try different angles
Take photos from below by lying down or stand on a chair and shoot from above. The same photo taken from a different angle can completely alter the scene.
4. Choose a subject
Pick a subject and have a play at getting the best photo of it/them (pets always work well for this).
5. Get up close (macro)
This can be tricky, but between getting closer and zooming in you can find your own little world.
6. Make the most of sunrise and sunset
It might be a bit of a struggle waking up on time in the morning, but the best light can be found at the beginning and end of the day. You can get truly breathtaking images, even from your back garden.
7. On the move? Try burst mode
If you’re photographing a moving subject, try burst mode. On an iPhone, you do this by quickly tapping down the shutter button and sliding your finger to the left. Your phone will then take continuous photos, which is useful for getting a non-blurry image if your subject won’t stay still! Don’t worry about this filling up your phone as they will all be stored together for you to go back and pick the best one.
8. Try black and white
Black and white is often hailed as one of the purest forms of photography. And it is a great way to see the world differently. In the filters panel, select ‘noir’ and get snapping.
Photography is all about capturing the world around you, but that doesn’t mean you should be scared to move things around. Try setting up your own scene.
10. Just have fun!
The great thing about photography is that all the rules are made to be broken. Have a play and see what happy accidents occur.
Home schooling ideas: Writing for media
From Cathy Wood, Head of content at Dialogue
Encouraging a love of words and writing from an early age will help set children up for a lifetime of opportunities in media. No matter which format – video, social, print, web or even virtual reality – words are required to plan, communicate key messages and explain complex ideas. Even very young children can start to understand the power of words, so here are some simple exercises to keep them engaged and get them thinking about the power of words.
1. Keep a diary
These are strange times worth documenting. All children, even those not confident with writing, should be able to keep a diary of some form – even if they just use emojis to show their facial expression for the day. A simple sentence or two to describe what they did and
how they feel will help them to understand basic sentence structure and how to explain emotion.
2. Magazine and newspaper cuttings
Cut out and stick up various headlines and play around with them so that they form new headlines. This helps them to see which words are powerful and emotive headline words and how sentences can mix and match. Some will work and some will not, but it will be fun to see what they put together and then read them out to discuss whether they make sense or not.
Every good copywriter is skilled at telling stories so getting children to simply write a story is an excellent place to start. It teaches the importance of a beginning, middle and end, characters and plot – all key elements used when copywriting for brands. A good way to get children over the hump of how to start a story is to write a line each – the adult starts with the opening line, the child writes the next one, the adult the next one and so on.
4. Sell a product
Get children to invent a new toy, food or drink and design a poster to sell it. Think about the packaging design, logo and also the strapline and phrasing around it.
Look at other well known brands eg McDonalds ‘We’re lovin it’, Nike ‘Just do it’ and talk around the power of a phrase. They could also make a short TV ad – simple stop motion using a free app, or script and film a short video on a phone.
5. Write a poem
Creating observational poems – about what they can see outside the window, for example. Basing a poem on what’s going on helps to narrow down the focus for this useful exercise, which gets children thinking about word choice and how words sound. For younger children you could find a household object or toy they have to write about with rhyming words. Rhyme and rhythm are excellent ways to add emphasis when copywriting and good skills to have.
Get children to describe a funny monster, verbally, and the adult has to draw what they are describing without asking any more questions. It will help them to see how precise descriptions can give better results – and also how adjectives can add depth to any writing. It really gets children thinking about word choice and you can also reverse roles too.
We hope this gives you some ideas of how to keep your children engaged at this most challenging time.