Tell Me A Story
Reading to our kids is great, and so is creating a story with them. This week, we will take a look at various apps that help us create our kids' stories. I used to think we had to choose one, and be "loyal" to it, but my story has changed. Each app that is reviewed below offers something a little different, and my choices are made on which child I am working with.
Pictello ($18.99) creates visual stories and can be used for schedules. Not only can real life photographs be used, but short video clips, and recorded sounds can be used. Furthermore, Pictello stories can be shared with Pictello Sharing Server. I have found this app easy to use not only for therapists, but for caregivers as well. With scrapbooking all the rave, many of my families have used this app as a real life scrap book so their child with complex communication needs can share a vacation, weekend, or birthday party. I have used this app as a schedule during my weekly cooking activity with children who I address ADLs with. Lastly, this app proved very useful for video modeling to modify behavior as a story was created, which demonstrated the sequence of events, and targeted appropriate behavior.
Toontastic is a great free app to address language skills. (Extra scenes and characters can be purchased for $.99-$1.99 more.) Kids love creating cartoons and telling stories, and forget they're working. This app teaches key storytelling principles by guiding its users through their story arc: setup, conflict, challenge, climax, and resolution. The plethora of settings and characters allows there to be something for everyone's interest. A personal favorite feature that Toontastic offers is the musical background. So often emotion and is left out of my kids' stories, but with this feature, they are able to convey the emotion of the scene. The importance of this to a story has led to quite a few discussions of how important the background music is to movie we watch. If Jaws (you can tell the time period I'm from) was sneaking up on someone in dead silence, the suspense wouldn't be nearly as great as with that memorable tune. As with Pictello, this app is also able to be shared, so it's "director" can gain recognition by family, friends, and teachers.
StoryMaker is a free app (with upgrade purchases available for $4.99) with simple taste. This app allows you to make your own photo album (like Pictello), as well as cards and comic books (like ToonTastic). Much like Toontastic, its uses includes addressing reading, sequencing, vocabulary, and following directions. The free version does not allow stories to be saved or shared, but upgrading does. Its two sections, Create Story, and Tell Story, are easy to use. As with both Pictello and Toontastic, using your own voice and pictures are possible. A great feature of StoryMaker for our little artists that Pictello and Toontastic do not offer, is drawing your own visuals for the story.
I'd love to hear your story of using these or story-based apps for language activities. Please share your comments and feedback.