Why does Tinkergarten encourage the use of photos? How are photos used?


Why are photos a valuable part of Tinkergarten?

“Documentation is learning made visible.” - Loris Malaguzzi

“Documentation is an act of communication. It makes public conversation about what we value.” - Project Zero Making Learning Visible Project

Photos teach. With photos, parents can visualize how a certain activity unfolds. We use photos taken in Tinkergarten classes on activity pages of our website to teach others.

Taking, sharing, and reviewing photographs is a powerful way for us to document learning. Documentation of children’s experiences in Tinkergarten classes can support explorers, guides, and leaders for the following reasons:

  • Reflecting on learning as a family: Photos allow families to reflect on their children’s experience at Tinkergarten as individual learners and as members of a learning community. While parents are often focused on supporting and engaging with their children during a Tinkergarten class, receiving post-class photos and an end-of-season slideshow allows parents to look back at their child's Tinkergarten learning experience at a time that is more conducive for reflection. 
  • Leaders can reflect too: Photos provide opportunities for leaders to reflect and learn. Viewing photos is a wonderful way for leaders to step back from the immersive experience of leading class in order to take a deeper look at the joyful learning that is unfolding. When leaders review photos, they can notice things that were missed in the moment, such as the look of intent, determination, or wonder on a child’s face or the ways in which a child’s engagement develops over time. Leaders are then able to share these powerful learning moments with families. 
  • Providing explorers with a visual representation of their playful learning: Parents can review the post-class images with their children.  When we show children photos of themselves as explorers, we communicate to them that we value their accomplishments and contributions.  Reviewing these images also builds momentum as children revisit and expand on their play from one class to the next.
  • Articulating our goals and values: What we capture and what we share communicates our values about children’s capabilities, the value of play, and the importance of supporting children and their parents in connecting with the natural world. When we take and share these images of outdoor play and learning with one another, we solidify our class community's shared commitment to honoring and celebrating our incredible explorers. 

How are photos used?

Both leaders and enrolled families can capture photos during a Tinkergarten class. Photos captured by enrolled families can be shared by emailing them to your specific leader. Leaders collect the photos and upload them to the class gallery, tagging the individual photos by explorer.

The Tinkergarten Leader then selects photos from the gallery and distributes them to parents and caregivers of your group in the "post class email." You can also see these selected photos when you are logged in by going to the Gallery page in My Tinkergarten. Tinkergarten does not share your photos publicly.

From time to time, Tinkergarten may want to use a photograph taken in class to promote outdoor play and playful learning on our website or in other materials/media. To do so, the parent of the child in the photo will be contacted first to give permission. Children's names or locations are never associated with photos when shared this way.

Parents often choose to share pictures of their kids at play with Tinkergarten across social media, as they do with many other kids activities. Those choices are up to the individual parent. 

What if you don't want a photo used or photos of your child shared in any way?

When you register for a Tinkergarten class, you agree to the use of photos as we describe. You can always choose whether or not to share your photos with us. You can also ask your Tinkergarten Leader to refrain from sharing photos of your child with the group. Leaders are quite sensitive and accommodating to parent wishes with respect to photos and photo use. If you ever have concerns about the way Tinkergarten uses photos, please contact us at