Make and Publish Books for Free Using A Cell Phone and Flickr

If your students have access to a cell phone (or any digital device i.e. iPad, laptop) that can take and send/email pictures, they can make and publish their own books quickly and easily using Flickr. This is a great way to bring student books to life by publishing them digitally in a format that can be easily shared with the world or printed as a book for the classroom or school library.

With Flickr you get an email that you (or anyone you share the email with) can use to send all your pictures to and Flickr makes it very easy to sort and group pictures using tags or drag and drop features. You can get a link or code to embed any picture or group/sets of pictures into any online space. When emailing your subject line becomes the picture caption and the message/body becomes the description. To follow are the steps to making a book using Flickr, a sample book, and ideas for the classroom.

Steps to making a book with Flickr:

  • Have students set up an account on Flickr to be used with school-related projects.
  • Flickr provides an email address to which you (and others) can send pictures.
  • Tell Flickr what tag should be associated with pictures sent to that email by going to As students are working on different projects, they will update and change their tag. For instance if you wanted them to share what they did on their summer vacation, their tag might be "summervacation." If you wanted all kids in your class to share pictures to one album you may use a tag with your name i.e. "Class602SummerVacation."
  • Inform students to take pictures with their camera and to make sure to use a subject (photo title) and message (photo caption). This becomes the text on the pages of the book.
  • Using a tag allows you to instantly generate a slide show with photo titles and captions. No work required.
  • Your tag allows Flickr to generate a link to your slide show that can be shared as well as a code that can be embedded into any online space.
  • Creating a slide show with Flickr saves teachers several hours over alternate methods such as sending individual emails to themselves, downloading every picture, then create a powerpoint where they would upload each picture, and copy/paste the titles and captions.

Here is a book I put together in just a couple minutes with pictures I took at the wedding I attended last weekend.

Ideas for the classroom:
1) Have students illustrate their writing on separate pieces of paper. Include a cover. Next have them take a picture of each illustration using the text of their writing in the email message.
2) Have students create a "My neighborhood" book and take pictures of meaningful places in their neighborhood with a subject and message on each picture which will create the content of their book.
3) Have students create an "About Me" book where they will take pictures of that which is important to them with each picture having a Subject (title) and Message (description).
4) Have students take pictures of the steps for a "How To" book with Subject (titles) and Message (steps) to serve as each page of text.

5) Assign a student each day responsible for capturing the picture of the day. They are responsible for writing the subject (Title) and message (description). What a great scrapbook for the year for students, home-school connection tool, and photos to share with administration.

Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in Huffington Post, EdReformer, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the bookTeaching Generation Text.

Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997. She is a prolific writer best known for her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator. Nielsen is the author of several books and her writing has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Tech & Learning.  

Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.