Did you ever get an email forwarded to you that had a number of big, funny pictures that made you and your kids laugh? And you wondered: Where in the world did this come from?
The answer might be BoredPanda.com.
I stumbled upon this site not long ago and have been a regular visitor since. Although some of the pictures aren’t appropriate for children, there are plenty of pages with images that are not only fun, they’re highly effective for engaging children in conversation and stimulating the growth of the minority language. (And since the focus here is images, this can be done in any language you like!) At the same time, these unique images can help expand a child’s sense of imagination and creativity.
BoredPanda.com is “a highly visual art and design magazine dedicated to showcasing the world’s most creative artworks, offbeat products and everything that’s really weird or wonderful.” In this post I’ll offer suggestions on how to make the most of your visits to the site to nurture language development, as well as links to some of my favorite pages for fun, effective interaction with kids.
Viewing the images
If your children are still small, sit them on your lap in front of the computer. (My own children—at the moment, 8 and 5—are the ideal age for this and we’ve already spent some memorable time bonding over BoredPanda.com.) Otherwise, pull up another chair next to yours and head to one of the links I’ve listed below.
Naturally, the way you and your children respond to each page will vary, depending on the particular set of images. Some will inspire dialogue more easily. You might also find (as I have) that you can pursue longer, more focused conversations if only one child is present.
As a basic approach, try pausing at each image on a page and prompting an initial response by asking a simple, open-ended question, like…
What do you see? or What’s happening here?
This is all you need, really, to generate a short, engaging discussion about each image. Your follow-up questions can then seek to encourage more specific information from the child, or foster certain needed vocabulary or other expressions. As you view the images, questions like these will probably spring to mind…
What’s funny/interesting/strange/etc. about this?
What are they doing? or What’s he/she/it doing?
What do you call this thing?
What do you think about this picture? Why?
How (Why) do you think the photographer/artist made this?
If English is your target language, you can also try eliciting interest—and nudging your child to read—by making use of the captions that are found above some of the images. For example, in the page with “30 Baby Animals,” I would scroll down and stop at each caption (“Baby Hippo”) before slowly revealing that image.
My favorite pages
BoredPanda.com has a wealth of content, and though I haven’t explored it all, I’ve tried to compile some of the better pages for younger children. (However, please note the occasional “warnings” I give!) Though you might use this “curated content” as a starting point (even bookmark this post for the future), I encourage you to dig a bit yourself for additional pages that you and your children would enjoy viewing and discussing.
30 Baby Animals That Will Make You Go ‘Aww’
My kids and I were squealing with delight!
Creative Dad Takes Crazy Photos Of Daughters
Wonderful, funny photos by a father of his two daughters.
World’s Best Father: Dave Engledow with Daughter Alice Bee
Wacky photos featuring a father with his little daughter. (Warning: You may want to preview this first. Images include scenes of comic “violence.”)
33 Perfectly Timed Photos
A variety of great images, some of them very funny. (Warning: You may want to preview this first. A few of the photos are sexually suggestive. My kids had no clue, though, and we simply scrolled past them.)
40 Incredible Examples of Optical Illusions in Photos
Terrific images, excellent for sparking conversation. (Warning: You may want to preview this first. As before, a couple of them are sexually suggestive.)
40 More Cool Optical Illusions in Photos
More awesome images, and this time no sexually suggestive content.
Cinemagraphs by Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg
Very cool (even kind of eerie) “moving” photographs.
13 Hyper-realistic Sculptures by Ron Mueck
A virtual museum tour of amazing and captivating art work.
Liu Bolin: The Real Life Invisible Man
Stunning, thought-provoking “camouflage art” by a Chinese artist and activist.
Armless Painter Paints With His Mouth & Feet
Inspiring story, with photos and video, of a painter in China.
Burnt Matchstick Art by Stanislav Aristov
Beautiful images using burning, smoking matchsticks. Lovely!
Creepy Dolls by Shain Erin
If your child likes such things, here’s a “scary” page. (Warning: You may want to preview this first. These dolls aren’t cute!)
More thoughts on using images to nurture language ability—along with more links to engaging photos—can be found at How Images Will Stimulate Your Child’s Bilingual Development.