A pinhole camera is a fun way to spark a child's interest in photography without a large investment in equipment. Not only will the child be able to take photos, but he will be able to make his own camera.
There are numerous examples of plans for making a pinhole camera, many of which are available for free downloading over the internet. The public library is also a great source of information on how to use the camera and how to make it.
Some of the pinhole cameras are designed to take regular, cartridge style film. Other designs require a film sheet (which may not be easy to find). All of the film can be taken down to the local drug store or any store that offers film development services. For the real enthusiast, a home dark room could be put together in a small bathroom or closet where you could have more control over the development process.
The basic pinhole camera is one without any conventional glass lens. Instead, the picture is taken through a very tiny hole in thin material that focuses all the light on one single point. Because of the nature of the way the picture is taken, the pinhole cameras require a longer exposure time of anywhere from 5 seconds to several hours (some can even require days of exposure).
It is possible to make take a damaged 35mm camera and make it into a pinhole camera. It requires the removal of the lens assembly with a pinhole assembly. This allows for the use of the film wind.
More often than not, pinhole cameras are made from recycled materials (like oatmeal boxes). There are several steps that are involved with the construction, but most of the components are already in many homes, making pinhole cameras and inexpensive and exciting way to delve into the world of photography.