Getting younger students to tell stories can promote a variety of different language arts skills in a way that is a lot more fun than doing grammar drills. From learning the parts of speech and sentence and paragraph structure to vocabulary, there is a lot of hidden teaching material in storytelling, which interactive storytelling apps can enhance.
Since we all know that kids LOVE to tell stories (check out this blog post by a teacher who had to limit how many stories each student could tell per day), there is a lot of potential in this activity. Bringing in digital tools can make the process even more robust. Check out the web tools and apps that we’ve explored below for a few options that might be useful in your classroom.
Storia is a free app that is basically an eReader for kids. While the app is free (and comes with five free books), users pay for subsequent books through the app). It allows users to set up personalized bookshelves for assigning the new eBooks they purchase, and for easily following a child’s reading progress by tracking the books he or she reads and their time spent reading. There are also audio and visual dictionaries designed with kids in mind, along with some games, puzzles, follow-along tools, and vocabulary building activities.
StoryKit is an app that allows users to create electronic storybooks that can include text, illustrations, photographs, and sound clips. Stories are easily shareable (send a link via email) and the app also includes four ‘public domain’ stories (well known things like “The Three Little Pigs”) which you can rewrite, rearrange, illustrate, etc). The interface is simple to use, the app is free, and you don’t need to set up an account to use it.
StoryPark is a web-based tool that allows users to sign up for a free account, and then create and share stories with other users of their choosing (stories are otherwise private). You can upload videos, photos, or text documents to create a running timeline of sorts. The creators of this tool seem to have made it with the intent of documenting a child’s progress and learning, we think it would make an excellent tool for recording classroom events and sharing with parents, or for creating classroom stories containing videos, photos, and narration by the students for a multimedia, theater style storytelling tool.
I Tell A Story is basically an audio recording and editing tool that is designed to allow students to narrate and record their stories. While this app is limited to audio, it does offer a lot of learning based uses aside from students simply narrating a story. It can be used to record reading progress in class to be shared with parents at home (or vice versa), or for students performing a play or other performance in front of a group to help them practice and then to record their work. At only $.99, we think it can be a useful tool for the classroom and at home.
Perfect for any classroom that aims to be more interactive, globally connected, and entertaining, Toontastic is a wildly fun app (if we don’t say so ourselves) that lets you create interactive storyboards using dead-simple iPad controls. It lets you just swipe and tap your way to creating a professional-ish digital puppet show / cartoon complete with your very own voice narration. There’s even a service called ToonTube which – you guessed it – lets you upload and share your generated cartoons to share with the world. Great for connecting with other students and classrooms in other countries!
Scribble Press is a drawing and storytelling app which focuses on allowing students to illustrate their stories with a great drawing tool. Expensive when compared to some of the other apps that we’ve highlighted here, it is $3.99, but depending on your needs, well worth the price. This could be a great app for any classroom, but due to the focus on the drawing tools, it might be especially fun for art classes. It has a simple to use layout tool, you can add in photos, use their multitude of drawing tools, and what we think is one of the best parts – they make it easy to order printed copies of the books that you create, which could make great addition to your classroom ‘library’ or you can give parents the option of ordering. Scribble Press also goes the extra mile and checks all the content you submit to ensure that it is kid-friendly.