10 Activities with Family Photos

10 Activities with Family Photos

From a very young age, children seem to be fascinated by photographs. Starting from when my kids were babies and I carried them around the house, they both stopped me whenever we reached a photograph hanging on the wall. My 1 year old still does this every day and loves to point at the pictures and call out which ones are "mama" and "dada".

When we look at old vacation photos, my almost 3 year old daughter loves to call out everybody's names and describe what they are doing in the pictures. It helps with her memory, logic and language skills.

Since photographs can be so engaging for young children, I thought it would be fun to come up with some easy DIY activities with family photos that are also educational!

1. Photo Puzzle

10 Activities with Family Photos

You can use a photograph that you already have, or print one out from your computer. If printing out, laminate the photo for durability. Then, depending on your child's age and the size of your photograph, cut it into 6, 9, 12 or 24 pieces and have your child put it back together.

2. Family Photo Matching (Visual Discrimination)

10 Activities with Family Photos
Visual discrimination practice is very important for young children, as it improves their ability to differentiate between similar images and, in the long run, will be an advantage when learning to read and write.
It's so easy to make your own visual discrimination matching activity with family photos - your computer does it all for you! If you use Windows, all you have to do is open up your picture folder, select 9 pictures (you will see why I say 9) that you would like to use, then either right-click and press "print", or find the "print" button located in the folder's toolbar. Once you click "print" you will see various layout options that you can change. The default layout is one large picture per page. If you scroll down you will see more options. The one I used is the "wallet" size layout that prints 9 photos per page. Click "print" again and ta-da! you have a photo sheet with 9 pictures. Then, print a second copy of the same 9 pictures. Laminate both sheets, then cut one into 9 separate photos that your child will match to the first sheet.
If you use Mac OS or if my explanation for Windows was unclear, click here to read some better instructions on how to print the photo sheets and it also has screenshots. Note: There is an option for a page of thumbnails but I thought the pictures came out too small.

3. Photo Sorting Activities

10 Activities with Family Photos
To make a sorting activity, follow the steps above (#2) to print off a photo sheet with 9 photos. Print several sheets with different photographs until you have enough photos for the sorting activity. Then laminate all the sheets and cut out the pictures.

Here are some ideas for sorting categories for family photos:
-sibling vs. sibling
-adult vs. child
-male vs. female
-mom's side vs. dad's side
-location: US vs. overseas, or NJ vs. FL
-events: Easter vs. Thanksgiving vs. Christmas

4. Photo Order Activities

10 Activities with Family Photos
This is the same as making the sorting activity above (#3), then the child puts the pictures in a specific order. Here are some ideas:
-age: youngest to oldest
-chronological events: the order that events happened (good for vacation photos)

5. Emotion Recognition Activities

10 Activities with Family Photos

Take pictures of yourself or your child expressing different emotions. Print off the photos using the photo sheet method above (#2). You can then do a matching or sorting activity (#2,3) or simply ask the child to describe the emotion expressed in each picture.

6. Photo Labeling Activities

10 Activities with Family Photos
This would be a good activity to do after one of the others. For example, after the child puts the family members in order of youngest to oldest (#4), they can add numbers labeling each person's age. Or, after doing an emotion recognition exercise (#5) the child can place a label next to each picture: sad, happy, angry, etc. Or, very simply, the child can label each person's name. Even if the child can't read the entire name or word, it can be good practice to sound out the beginning letter.

7. Family Tree

10 Activities with Family Photos
Print photo sheets (#2) with individual pictures of each family member, then laminate and cut out each person. Make your own tree with popsicle sticks and green construction paper, or any other materials you have on hand. Then, help your child adhere the photos to the tree in their correct location. You can also use a string to create links between family members.

Here are some more great ideas from other bloggers:

10. Photo Face Collage by Mosswood Connections


Viviana is a blogging mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a kindergartner, sharing ideas and resources for early education. She specializes in unique, hands-on printable activities that are educational, fun and inspire creativity in young minds.


  1. Great ideas! Our kids love looking at photos, so these will be perfect!

    Play to Learn Preschool

  2. Such a great ideas! Loving your tips! Thank you for linking up with us! #Pintorials

  3. Doesn't everyone just love looking at photos? Thanks for putting this together - oh and I found you via The Super Mommy's Club link party today.

  4. What a fun idea. I love photos and always looking for ways to incorporate some fun into using them. My daughter loves looking at old photos too! Stopping in from Dabbling Momma share day as a new follower :)

  5. I really love these ideas! My boys always loved looking at photos too. This is such a great activity. Thanks!

  6. Came over from the Super Mommy Club and love these ideas! Pinning them.

  7. I love finding creative uses for family photos -- these are great ideas for the entire family! Thanks for sharing at the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop!

  8. Cute ideas! Love the puzzle. I've been trying to catch up on my scrapbooks lately and have lots of leftovers, so this is a great way to use those photos!

  9. What fun ways to use family photos! And kids love to see more of the people they love so I'm sure they are a big hit! Thanks so much for sharing on Makeovers & Motherhood's Welcome Party Wednesday Link-Up!