Your younger ones (and some older ones too) would enjoy making a "camera
obscura"--work in some art history too--these were sometimes made up as
elaborate horse drawn vehicles or portable boxes or tents with which artists
roamed the outdoors.
Would do a search for you--but I'm short of time at the moment <G>
Get a large carton--washer/dryer size minimum. In the center of one long
side, make a tiny hole (can always make it bigger...) If your hole gets too
big, tape a piece of heavy foil over it and start anew.
Place the box in a well lighted area and crawl inside (I told you they
would love it!) Drape a blanket over the end for light proofing.
On the wall opposite the hole you will see an upside down version of
whatever the "lens" is seeing. Taping a white sheet of paper on the
cardboard in the target position will help visibility. Draw the outlines of
what you see. Buildings and non-moving objects are easier to draw this way,
but they can try drawing their friends. Make it a group project, with a
couple drawers inside, a stage manager to adjust objects at the direction of
those inside and of course your subjects. It will give them a little sense
of what it was like in old photos to have to hold still for long exposures
on slow film (a big advance over the camera obscura....)
This is actually a large version of a pinhole camera (and you could use
sheet film...). Experiment with positioning (distance--focus), lighting,
size of hole (the smaller, the sharper the image), focal length (distance
from lens to back wall)--all of these are factors that influence the effect
of light on film in an ordinary camera--even your disposable ones.
Have fun... This is a great project for one of those days when you probably
wouldn't accomplish much anyway....
Aw, Jill, you got my curiosity aroused--again...
*make a camera obscura in your bedroom (artroom??)
*The Camera Obscura: Aristotle to Zahn: detailed information, pictures,
timelines, and links to other sources
A teacher's guide to the camera obscura in conjunction with the Richard
Torchia exhibition at the Center for Creative Photography, University of
history of photography
Vermeer (camera obscura user)
Lily Kerns CWKerns
Art Teachers-- http://www.geocities.com/EnchantedForest/Dell/9575
Quilt guild-- http://www.orion.org/~opqg