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Free Photos on the Web

Looking for copyright-friendly images you and your students can use? Want hard-to-find historical images or photos from a country halfway across the world? Check out these Web sites filled with images you can use in the classroom today.

Check out more than a dozen Web sites containing free images -- including filtered and unfiltered collections, online photo albums, virtual tours, and opportunities for you and your students to share your own images with others on the Web!

Pics4Learning should be one of the first places you and your students look for photos and other images online. Educators and students have donated thousands of images for Pics4Learning, so anything you find is free for use in the classroom. Pics4Learning also encourages you and your class to donate digital pictures. (No photos of minors or faces of adults). The site even includes a collaborative project with a frog named Jacques who documents his visits across the world through photos. Don't miss it!

Originally a state-based project out of Utah, SURWEB now includes 10,000 images from around the world. Just like other sites, SURWEB provides photos free for use in educational settings. What sets this site apart is the more than 800 categories of images, allowing students to find images on extremely diverse topics. Plus, the media basket feature gives teachers and students a chance to quickly create a slide show on a topic by simply clicking "use in my show" button at the top and bottom of every image. Also, the virtual locker (available to those who sign up for the free resources) gives you a place to save any images you like -- great for the teacher just beginning to use images in the classroom.

Digital Saskatchewan
Don't let the name fool you! While this project was initially designed for classrooms in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, the nearly 8,000 images are available for use by teachers and students worldwide. Like SURWEB, you can create slide shows -- called Virtual Tours. However, those Tours allow you to add both text and hyperlinks, making them easy-to-use presentations much like PowerPoints, and not simply photo slide shows. Students and teachers can create Virtual Tours, as well as Personal Photo Albums -- repositories for their favorite images. The albums are a good choice during research time, when a student might be working on computers in class, at home, and the library, so saving images to just one computer is problematic. Be sure to check out the digital postcard feature as well.

The Library of Congress's American Memory Project
With a goal of 5 million items -- from speeches to images to video to digitized text and more -- the American Memory project is by far the best source for digital content specific to American History. More than 100 thematic collections make it easy to find images specific to your class's needs. The Browse feature allows you to look for images based on U.S. regions, media type (photos? maps?), time period, or topic. Be sure to click the Teacher link on the home page to find excellent tips for using this Web site in your classroom. The teacher-based resources include a monthly chat, guiding questions to teach students to respond to the images they find, lesson plans, interactive games, and much more.


The following are links to lists of classroom-appropriate photo sites.

The following links are to sites with thousands of free-to-use photos. Beware, however, that these are not education sites and they might contain images inappropriate for K-12 students. You might choose to use these as sources for your own presentations, or for use in secondary or some high school settings.

Learn about more great sites for students, parents, and educators by visiting Education World's Site Reviews Archives.


Article by Lorrie Jackson
Education World®
Copyright © 2007 Education World

Originally published 09/07/2005
Links last updated 05/23/2008