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Introduce Your Kids to Storytelling Tools!

Photo by Alexbrn via Flickr

Storytelling is a joyful and fascinating part of childhood, and in fact, is fundamental to the human experience. Innovative and accessible, online and computer-based tools have redefined the ways in which children learn to read and communicate. Elementary curriculums the world over are finding fascinating ways to integrate web-based reading and storytelling tools; and this guide describes some of the very best out there.

Choosing Storytelling Tools

Generally speaking, because of the complexity of the interface or the confusing number of options, children in grades Kindergarten through Second will likely need direct supervision when using most storytelling tools. Older kids, depending on their tech aptitude, should just need a little direction from time to time.

Little Kids (K-2)

Older elementary students will also enjoy using these easier programs.

Big Universe allows kids to create and publish in a variety of styles, including books, reports and essays. Its simple interface and engaging designs make this a wonderful tool for the younger grades.

Kids of all ages enjoy making cartoon stories with Domoanimate. Kids can easily create a slideshow of their own pictures, accompanied by music. They can also make a Domo adventure using the tools in the animation studio.

At littlebirdtales, young students create and add a piece of art or text, and then record their own voice telling the story; friends and family can see and hear their tale when it is emailed directly from the site.

At KerPoof, kids can draw, create a picture, write a story and make a movie. Designed for teachers and parents, KerPoof directs children to particular activities according to their grade level.

Children can use Mixbook’s tools to easily put together a story with pictures, text and art. Little kids will enjoy making cards, calendars and photo books.

My Story Maker helps kids of all ages create their own story. Children are directed to age-appropriate activities according to whether they are big, little or just enthusiastic.

Tikatok is designed to help little children write, draw and share their stories. Ordered online but producing books you can hold, this tool is a great option for kids of all ages.

With Zimmer Twins, students create an animated movie from character to dialogue. Fun for the whole family, Zimmer Twins’ innumerable options make it easy to create a relatively complicated story in a short time.

ZooBurst was rated Best Website for 2011 for Teaching & Learning by the American Association of School Librarians. This digital storytelling tool allows even younger kids to access a database with over 10,000 free materials and images to tell their story.

Bigger Kids (3-6)

There are also a variety of more sophisticated tools that older kids will enjoy using in order to tell even more interesting stories.

Children create stories and generate reports by adding text and music to videos and images with Animoto. Educators may be qualified for a free Animoto Plus account.

Kids can make comic strips for free at Chogger; typing their own text, students can draw images, add photos using a webcam and source their own images using the Chog It! bookmarklet.

Fotobubble allows students to upload a picture or link to a photo on a webpage, and then record a short story to go along with it. Stories may be shared on Facebook and web pages.

Students can tell video stories with Go!animate. Teachers can use the school-safe program to monitor and manage content.

Jelly Cam lets older kids tell a story with stop motion, take pictures with a webcam, add music and export their video; its sister site, Draw me a Game, lets kids design on the computer and turn it into a game to share.

With Jing, older students can create videos or still pictures out of any image on a computer screen. They can then add video to tell their story. And thanks to Jing’s screencasts, students can share their stories on IM, blogs, email or Twitter.

Lightning Bug helps students think up, plan, develop and complete a story from beginning to end. This tool’s emphasis on writing makes it appropriate for older elementary students.

PicLits inspires writing by giving kids a photo and asking them to write a story about it. Its optional “drag-n-drop” feature works like an online magnetic poetry kit. Kids simply choose words from a selection of nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and add them to the story.

Voki allows students to design an avatar, then give it a voice. Kids love having their story told by their cool, customized alter ego.

Xtranormal allows kids to transform their words into a 3D animated movie. Frugality warning: it has dozens of interesting themes and images that must be purchased.

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