Storytelling is a form of art that has been gaining popularity lately because of its educational use. Being able to stimulate creativity and deep thinking in children, as well as basic literacy skills, this is a way for them to learn more about communication, and become better at expressing their emotions.
With this in mind, software developers from all over the world came up with digital storytelling – this enables children to write stories of their own, directly on their parents’ mobile phones. The recent increase in the general use of mobile technologies is responsible for the modernization of traditional storytelling, and for it going mobile.
For the same reason, we find ourselves holding a tablet or phone more often than we use a pencil, which is why I’m always amazed by the amount of great apps allowing kids to create, imagine, dream, and write. This article is going to talk about some of the most outstanding application that we discovered, explaining what the OS requirements are, and how you can use them.
StoryPanda is a very simple, although not simplistic tool for kids to come up with stories. It offers a ready-made beginning of a story that anyone can add up to – they can easily change the names, characters, location, or the text.
Coming only in English, the application requires iOS v5.0 or later, and it can be acquired on iTunes for $2.99. It is compatible with both iPhones and iPads, and it has been updated at the end of 2013 in order to come with even more interesting features.
The latest story-book released by them is called Pickle: The Little Bird Who Doesn’t Tweet. Using an innovative digital watercolor technique, this is a nice story about a bird that wasn’t able to sing, but managed to find its voice in some other ways. There are several other StoryPanda books available to download on their website and via the application.
Brush of Truth
Aimed at children aged between 8 and 12, Brush of Truth is compatible with Android, iOS and Windows phones. It requires either iOS v3.0, Android 2.2 or Windows 7/newer, and it can be installed for $1.99. Being also suitable for iPads and iPods Touch, this tool comes from Story Bayou.
Some of its most incredible features are the 65 decision points, while it also gives you the choice of how the action takes place, gives you 20 possible endings, and lets you have a maximum of 126 pages for each one of your stories.
It is ideal for use as a teaching method in classroom, being specially designed for third through six-graders. Children will definitely love this app, especially since it comes with a magical paint brush. We won’t spoil it too much, though, so you shall learn more about its powers once you download it.
Another iOS-only application is ZooBurst, the digital storytelling tool enabling kids to create their own 3D books. Available to download for free on iTunes, it only requires iOS v4.3 or a newer one, and it is also compatible with iPads.
The app comes with a Gallery that lets you read the stories that were made public by other members of the community, while you can also scan for stories using a Story Code. This one lets users identify a specific book that was attached to an object, in a similar way to how we scan products in a groceries’ store.
The latest version of ZooBurst is v1.2.2 which was updated in February 2014 and is only available in English. The 12.2 MB app can be downloaded here, and installed by following the simple instructions on the screen.
Story Patch comes from Haywoodsoft LLC and is suitable for most kids over the age of 4. Being designed for iOS devices, this one is only compatible with iPhones and iPads, and it requires version 7.0 or a newer one of the same operating system.
Coming only in English, it has over 800 illustrations that your kids can choose from, and it allows them to customize their characters. Whether you want them to be angry, sad, happy, or simply relaxed, it’s very easy to change their body position and facial expression with just a few clicks.
If you’d like to use any of your own photos from the phone’s library, it’s also possible to import them so you can make the story look just the way you want it to. The latest version of the app – v2.1 – also lets users add various shapes such as starts, circles or rectangles to make the story more interesting.
More than just another storytelling app for children, PictureBook is available in the iTunes store for free, and it comes with some amazing features. It is available in English, French, Spanish, German and a few others, while it lets you save your books into a PDF, email them or share them with friends on social media networks.
The tool can be used by anyone owning an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, it’s optimized for the iPhone 5 and requires iOS v5.0 to function properly. Being very user-friendly and easy to use, PictureBook lets kids create illustrated stories in just a few simple steps that are clearly explained and exemplified.
If you’d like to get even more out of this app, you can acquire any of the themed picture libraries at $0.99 each. These ones can vary from pirates to ninjas and Cinderella to animals, vampires or dinosaurs. To learn more about the PictureBook tool, you can go to their official product page on iTunes.
While it might initially seem to be just a drawing app, this is actually a storytelling application for your kids. Thanks to Scribble Press, they can do two main things: the first one is indeed to draw, and save their drawings into a folder called “My Drawings”, but the second one is to create books that will automatically be saved under “My Books”.
Coming with a “marker wall”, the $3.99 app lets you choose from a wide selection of colors, as well as styles and widths for your paintings. The different types of pens and stamps to choose from also help children let their inner artist out. But not only painters can be artists – some of the creative types also like to write.
For the latter, the same app comes with many interesting features. First of all, they get to choose the kind of story they’d like to create, and then it lets you do the work. However, there are many pre-made books available for kids to get inspired. All you need to start using it is iOS v5.1 or a newer one, while you should own either an iPhone or an iPad.
StoryKit is a free app that suits any iOS device that runs on version 5.0 or a newer one of the same OS. It is suitable for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch, while it can be a fun tool for kids and a practical one for teachers.
The 6.8 MB application is easy to download and install by following the on-screen indications. Once you’ve installed it, all you have to do is start adding text and attach or take pictures to use as part of your story. To make it even more entertaining, you can also record audios or add any sound effects you might want to.
Apart from being a lot of fun, it’s also been scientifically proved that this mobile app can help improve your children’s creativity, as it was designed by researchers at the University of Maryland. As part of one of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab’s projects, they created StoryKit to learn more about the amazing ways in which mobile devices can affect the behavior and learning process of your child. Since it was first released and until these days, the conclusions on this seem to be very positive.
Talking Tom or Ben
Who doesn’t know the famous talking cats – Tom and Ben? While there are a few apps available for both Android phones and iPhones that let you play with them, and ask them to repeat what you said. However, the most recent app of Tom and Ben lets both of them interact with each other and present news together.
Once you say something, they repeat it – so it’s easy to turn into a news anchor, and start telling the story of what’s going on in the world. In addition to being able to create a news story of their own, kids can also decide who is going to fall off the chair, and who will squirt a water gun at the other character.
The requirements vary with device, and they depend on which version of the app you go for, but they generally ask for Android v2.2 or iOS v5.0. Coming not just in English, but also in Arabic, French, Korean, Spanish, Russian and many other languages, this app can be downloaded for free here or here.
Comic & Meme Creator
This is one of the simplest apps you can get for your Android phone – it lets you create memes, as well as comics and funny pictures with a few clicks. To make it even better, you can also share any of the stories you created on Facebook, Twitter or via Email.
The latest update was done in January 2014, and the app now comes with over 100 popular images to choose from. If your kid likes comics, you might be happy to know that there are over 50 characters, objects and backgrounds that he/she can use while photos from your own gallery can also be added to the story.
The 20 MB app only requires Android v2.2 and is free to download and install. Available for use on Google Play, this one includes a variety of famous super heroes – Spiderman, Captain America, Batman and Hulk are just a few examples.