Alphabets of shapes/household object sets

Collect shapes, details and images from reality using the camera of a smartphone or tablet

In this activity, children and teenagers will be able to observe the reality around them with the help of a digital tool, which will help them to dialogue with and manipulate it in order to create a personal collection of cropped shapes and details from their surroundings.

By combining the photographed details and cropped images taken as they explore the spaces they live in, sets of silhouettes, colors, objects and small details hidden at home are created.

Evocative and unexpected encounters, impossible in the physical world, can take place and thanks to the imagination, new worlds, special characters and fantastic stories take shape.

The Photoshop Mix app (free and available for iOS or Android smartphones and tablets) is used to take photos and digitally edit them by deleting the background, isolating a detail, changing the size, color and the degree of transparency.


from age 3 up

(for younger children, together with an adult)


tablet or telephone connected to the internet, Photoshop Mix (free app), paper and pen


art, technology, science, math (sets), language arts

from designing to sharing


This section is a guide for adults to orient and support children’s and young people’s projects. The children’s hypotheses, starting from some initial questions, will be verified and deepened during the activity.

Questions to start with:

– Have you ever collected stickers, stamps, shells?
– Have you ever thought that you can also collect geometric shapes, green objects, objects starting with the letter P, etc.?
– How many round objects do you have at home?
– How many wooden objects, large or small, can you find?
– Which objects in the house open and close?
– Now you choose! What would you like to collect?



→ Look around for details or objects that interest you (a leaf, a candle, a piece of silverware, a tile, a design on a sweater, a letter on the cover of a book, etc.).


→ Take a good look at what you have chosen, think about which characteristic struck you the most (is it round? very small? Does it have a name that starts with a letter that you like?).

– What did you choose?
– Why? What struck you?


→ Start searching the house for other objects/details/elements that belong to the same category/family and write a list on a sheet or notepad.

– What is your collection/family made up of?
– Did you expect to find so many items for your collection?
– What rooms in the house did you find the other items in?
– What objects and corners of the house did you discover thanks to this search?


> ! Notes for the adult: accompany this part with some questions to support the exploration (see section 2/3).
If you are a teacher, you can reflect with your students on the concept of families or sets, starting from a category that you suggest (e.g. plants and trees, transparency, geometric shapes, letters of the alphabet).

→ What is a set?
→ What do different elements have in common?



→ If you don’t already have it on your device, download the free Photoshop Mix app.
Find the app on: App Store and Play Store (the app requires you to create a free Adobe Id account. When you download and install the app, follow the instructions to create an account).


→ Create a new project and take a photograph of the detail you chose. Here are some directions to get started:

> view the  tutorial
> download the tutorial


Explore the possibilities the app offers (try using the image editing tools; you can for example move the image, rotate it, resize it, and change its color) and take notes of what happens in a notebook.


→ Try to isolate the detail of the photo you took with the “Silhouette” function: if you don’t know how to do this, look here:

> view the tutorial
> download the tutorial


→ Now you’re ready to create your own collection/family of details:
add the other things you found around the house that belong to the same family; i.e. ones that have the same characteristic as the first one.
To add one or more items:

> view the tutorial
> download the tutorial


→ You can add up to 10 items.
If you have found more that you want to add, you have to save the first 10 in one image and then start adding new ones on a new page (see next step: sharing).


 Some open questions may be useful to support children’s and young people’s projects:

– Was it fun? What did you like the best?
– What didn’t you expect to happen or what surprised you the most? Why?
– Was it difficult? What problems did you encounter?
– What strategies did you find to solve the problems?


→ Save your collection as an image on your tablet or phone:

> view the tutorial
> download the tutorial

→ Send the photo of your collection to a friend, classmate or relative.
→ Invite a friend, family member or classmate to create their collection by sending them this activity.
→ Ask a friend to work on a new collection together. You could share photos taken at home (all types of leaves or flowers, triangular or stringy elements, etc.) using whatsapp or email.

→ You can also send the image to along with your name (first name only), a title and a short description of your collection. We will collect them all on our website in a special section.

> Notes for the adult: accompany this part with some questions to support the exploration

– What did sharing your experience with others add to your project?
– How could your research continue?

how to continue the project?

→ Is there an object in your house that belongs to many different collections? (for example a button can be in the collection of small things, round things, decorated things, wooden things, etc.).

→ You could print the image of your collection and invent games to play with your family.

– If you print two copies and cut out the various items you can create a memory game;
if you are did this activity by yourself, you can challenge one or more of your family members to find all the details in your collection at home, like a treasure hunt!

→ What unexpected things can you find at home? Did you find a strange face, letters, numbers or geometric shapes in objects or furniture?
Like a detective, you can look for something particular and unusual.

→ Did you notice that scissors, like the one you have at home, are also one of the buttons on the app you just used? They are the tool to isolate the element (Silhouette). Why did you think this symbol/icon was used? Look at the other icons:

– What do they make you think about?
– Which functions do they have?
– Could your images become icons? What would they be used for?

Create a collection of possible icons, giving them names and explain what their function might be.

> ! If you are a teacher, these reflections and notes can be shared on the teaching platform that you already use and can become a shared resource for the class.

→ Starting from the different elements in your favourite collections/families, you can compose a single image (a collage) and invent and create a new object/character etc.
> explore this possibility in more detail:
→ See what happens if you use this app with the activity Transforming the real with the digital.