Ways to Use Document Cameras in the Classroom

Document cameras make it quick and easy to integrate technology into your classroom. Visual presenters capture 3D objects or 2D images and transmit them to your monitor, computer or LCD projector. Not only will document cameras actively engage your entire classroom, but visual learners will benefit by seeing instructions, small items, demonstrations and more. Want to cut down on copy expenses? Use a document camera to project notes, quizzes and worksheets that you would otherwise photocopy. There’s a document camera for just about every need – take your pick from portable or desktop models, or in affordable presentation bundles that also include a projector.

So how can you use a document camera in your classroom? Here’s a list of general uses and activities followed by more specific use by subject type.

General Use
  • Zoom in on small items to see details
  • Reading out loud
  • Stop watch for timed activities
  • Photos and images
  • Save images for later use – document cameras can act like scanners when hooked up to a computer
  • Display daily assignments
  • Quizzes
  • Bell ringers and exit slips – to be completed at the beginning and/or end of class
  • Worksheets as study guides – fill in the worksheet with students
  • Go over test answers
  • Display valuable, breakable items instead of passing around
  • Overhead transparencies (may need a white sheet of paper underneath)
  • Excerpts/pictures from the textbook
  • Let students teach the class
  • Display magazines/newspaper articles
  • Capture images to later be used on study guides, tests
  • Copy and save images to add to classroom website/blog
  • Seating charts
  • Attendance
  • Games
  • Collages
  • Display and discuss homework
  • Flashcard review
  • Presentations – display visual aids
  • Enlarge text
  • Daily schedule


  • Show and tell
  • Letter formation
  • ABC tiles
  • Worksheets
  • Display student work/art work
  • Demonstrate cursive
  • Storytime
  • Display sequencing activities
  • Phonics instruction
  • Display classroom rules
  • Daily journal prompt


Social Studies
  • Display maps
  • Label maps
  • Photos and images of historical places
  • Display and/or create timelines
  • Travel using Google Earth


  • Experiments
  • Lab set-ups
  • Dissections
  • Zoom in on small items to see details
  • Microscope
  • Model chemistry problems, solve formulas


  • Math manupuliatves
  • Demonstrate calculator use
  • Show students how to work problems
  • Workbook pages
  • Display and create graphs
  • Have students work through and explain problems
  • Demonstrate how to use drawing tools – protractor, ruler, etc.
  • Show coins


  • Sentence/paragraph structure
  • Punctuation and grammar editing
  • Revisions
  • Share student writing
  • Book reports
  • Display text to read out loud
  • Proofreading analysis
  • Display vocabulary words


Art & Music
  • Display student art work
  • Art pictures/projects
  • Demonstrate techniques
  • Demonstrate how to mix colors
  • Display music books and sheet music


Do you have a great way to use document cameras that you’d like to share? Comment below and we’ll add it to the list.

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17 Responses to “Ways to Use Document Cameras in the Classroom”

  1. Jay PhillipsMay 19, 2011 at 1:28 am #

    I am a class adviser–which means our class has to draw posters and such to decorate the school for rallies and various events. I would use it to put the pictures on the wall to be traced by the students. Right now we use over heads—but it means 1-2 students who are artists have to re-draw or trace the picture. The elmo would definitely be more cost effective and a time saver. Also–pictures could be color coded as they are being drawn so that we don’t have to look up the pictures over and over again on google

    THANKS for the bonus entry

  2. YolandaMay 19, 2011 at 12:58 am #

    I was fortunate to receive an LCD projector from the wonderful donors at DonorsChoose, but I am very limited on it’s use without an ELMO. I have a current project asking for one…but no luck so far :( My kindergartners and I would love to receive and ELMO and make the best of the ELMO and LCD projector. I would be able to model literacy, math and science lessons for all my students to have a better view! I could easily make a read aloud into a shared reading by projecting it on a big screen and create a great interactive reading experience!!!

  3. JulieMay 18, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    I would love one for my Kindergarten Classroom! I would use it daily in so many different ways! First of all, it would be amazing for story time – especially when they are smaller books and hard for all the students to see the pictures! It would also be great or demonstrating science experiments close up to your whole class at one time! Also, when the my students come in they have NO IDEA how to complete ANY work, so this would be great to use whole group to explain different assignments so all students could see! How wonderful that would be! :)

  4. Cristi PrengerMay 18, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    I teach 8th grade LD language arts. Technology is limited in our public school. An Elmo has endless possibilities: engage students to share work and write so others can see, show video clips through the computer, great for modeling what you want your students to do in their writing, and so much more. Every teacher should have an Elmo! It replaces old, out-dated equipment.

  5. Robin FinkelsteinMay 18, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    I teach 2nd graders in Philadelphia. An Elmo would help my students improve their literacy skills. It would be an awesome way to read out new reading series. I would be able to keep my students actively engaged. Next year, I will have my largest class ever due to the budget cuts. Keeping everyone focused and engaged is my goal and an Elmo would help me reach my goal.

  6. Tammy TaylorMay 18, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    An Elmo is a great way to show writing and to help students identify the different parts of speech. It’s also a great way to show a book that you only have one copy of, have the students see it, and do the activities from it on their whiteboards so it saves copies of worksheets. Another awesome thing is that is shows everything in color so kids can see the details much better.

  7. Debby GuardinoMay 18, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    GRAB THEIR ATTENTION -WITH CSI INVESTIGATIONS! We would use the Elmo to compare and contrast things like soil. I have a lesson I want to teach where you read and introduce several nursery rhyme characters. I would start by projecting the stories with the Elmo onto the Smartboard. Then I would ask my students to look at different types of soil. I would tell them their job as a CSI Investigator is to try to decide which type of soil a criminal carried on their shoes. It would be done under the premise of trying to determine which nursery rhyme character we studied stole Old Mother Hubbard’s dog bones. We would use the Elmo to take a picture of different types of soil and then use the Smartboard to place the soil photos side by side and compare them with a “crime scene photo: of the soil we found on the thief’s shoes. .I think the kids would love it!

    • Debby GuardinoMay 18, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

      Sorry on the last post I forgot to say I teach special needs students in a primary Pre-k -2 school and serve all grade levels…I wear many hats.

  8. denise jacksonMay 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    I am an elementary Art teacher and I would love to have the ELMO in my classroom. I would use it to demonstrate each project step, Artwork, project my power points and my new classroom website. I am trying to incorporate more technology in my room this year and would love the addition of the ELMO to make that transition faster.

  9. Alicia GregoryMay 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    I am teaching a 4th and 5th grade combination class. Using the ELMO is a great way to transition from one grade level to the other without worksheets and wasting time. My kids LOVE when I use it and benefit greatly from all it can do!

  10. Jen KingMay 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    In addition to the above list,especially science experiments, in 6th grade we would use the ELMO as a movie camera to “broadcast/project their science news or morning news” in the classroom.

  11. Maria SmithMay 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    I use my document camera with my Interactive Whiteboard to take a “picture” of the lesson we’re working on and then use the “annotate over desktop” to write on/edit what we’re doing. Fabulous!!!

  12. Jeannine GillMay 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    Having an Elmo again to work with will be so awesome. Moving to another school which did not have an Elmo in the classroom made my preparation time longer. There will not be a need for transparencies any more. Teaching every subject in fourth grade will be so much more easy, since all I will need to do is use the Elmo to display any item from the curriculum. It will also allow the students to share their work with the class. The students will even be able to watch their classmates read their writing by using the camera and the computer/projector to place their image on a wall.

  13. Zach NilesMay 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    I like to use mine for a “monkey see, monkey do” type note taking with my 8th grade algebra students. It allows me to have the same math notebook as my students so we can practice how to format problems, how to arrange math in our notes, and to model how to properly take good notes.

    It also works great to project graph paper on to the white board for graphing exercises!

  14. Caleb Lee PowellMay 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    As a Math/Language/Reading teacher in the fourth grade, I have seen so much change in the way we present information to my students. Starting next year we have to show strong and weak work to our new students or students who are struggling with a new concept. A document camera would help me and save me some time by enabling me to show this work to my students with out having to scan in the examples to my computer. Scanning is a long and daunting task which requires organizing files and with the document camera, I could display what examples I needed to show. Then move on to show more examples or move on with my teaching of the lesson.

  15. LauraMay 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    I have a quadriplegic student who uses an ELMO. Documents/worksheets are scanned through the ELMO, sent to his computer, and he uses Adobe Writer to edit or answer the questions on the worksheet. He answers all of the questions using a mouthstick to press the computer keys. He is an inspiration to all of us on what it means to be determined and persistent!!

  16. kate poleckaMay 18, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    Having an elmo in my classroom is something ive wanted since i started teaching. I teach math at a chicago public school. We dont have much access to technology. I think elmos are an amazing addition to any classroom. The camera technology would be great for my students to take notes as well as check homework show mathematical diagrams and problems off worksheets that need additional explanation and discussion.