Story Kit and the iPad: It’s Not Just a Toy

Kindergartners in Mrs. Isom’s class use their Camp Think -A-Lot Blog and Story Kit on the iPads to write for a global audience and they can’t wait each day to see who in the world has read their blog.

As these kindergartners are learning to write in their Writing Workshop program, they are also learning geography by locating the people who are reading their creations on their class blog, Camp Think-A-Lot.

They were thrilled to find readers from many states in the United States as well as Kuwait , India and New Zealand.

In addition to using these engaging Web 2.0 tools (Blogger and Clustr Maps), these Kindergartners are also adept at using the iPads for the publishing step of their Writing Workshop program.

First, they write their stories in their Draft Book

Then they edit their story with the help  of an editing checklist.

Once their stories are edited and approved by their teacher, they are ready to publish!

While there are many great story creating apps out there…we chose the Story Kit app for publishing. It’s free and the text and paint tools are easy enough for kindergartners without too many bells and whistles.

Here is a great resource from which I learned about digital storytelling with Story Kit:  Creative Apptitude, ipad Multimedia Tools for Creativity by Karen Bosch.

Mrs. Isom showed the students how to start a story in Story Kit, and how to add text and drawing to their pages.

And they were off!  The intensity of focus, the level of engagement, and the conversation in the room during this publishing step was delightful.

The students knew they had to get all of their text in, with one sentence to each page of their book, before they were able to start their artwork.  This really reinforced the concept of a sentence.

Once their pages were checked for sentences copied from their Draft Books correctly, students were free to illustrate their pages.    

When their books were complete, students filled in the Details Page with the title and author.

Then it was time to share their creations.

Students clicked Share, which saved the story to the Story Kit App on the iPad.

The next step was to email it to their teacher, which required adult help to be sure the email address was typed in correctly.         

After a story is emailed to the teacher, she receives an email message with a link to the story.

Mrs. Isom put these links into her blog so family and friends from all around the world can read and comment on these wonderful stories.

Drop in and read these delightful stories and leave comments…these young authors will be thrilled. Go to:

Then, on the right, in the pages section, click on Published Stories from Writer’s Workshop

About Story Kit

There are a few great things about Story Kit that make it a perfect publishing app for the primary grades.

As I said earlier it’s free. But the power lies in the simplicity of it’s text, graphic, and recording tools for primary students. It is so easy to publish student work on a website or blog because Story Kit emails a URL that opens a very clean view of the book. This URL can easily be placed into your blog, wiki, newsletter, tweet, etc.

Another great thing about Story Kit, which these Kindergartners will be using soon, it the voice recorder. Students can click the record button on their work window and record narration with each page of their book. This narration plays on the website when the story is published to it, by clicking the speaker on each page.

The collection of student stories is saved in the Story Kit App on the iPad. But, be cautious because..if your district updates the iPads, these stories get wiped out.

Since our iPad lab is a school lab, on checkout to everyone, teachers assign iPad numbers to each student so that they work on the same iPad each time, and can find their saved work. This is not ideal, since there have been instances of someone accidentally editing or deleting a project or camera roll item that another student has saved. Personal devices would be the best way for students to manage their digital work…maybe someday in the future.

Another nice thing about Story Kit is the ease of emailing a story. The email window opens up and all the student needs to do is enter an email address. We put a generic email account on each iPad.  At first the concept of a generic email account on student iPads was quite a dilemma because of security and appropriate use…and although we now have generic email accounts on the student iPads, it still has the potential to be troublesome.  We decided to go ahead and try it out because some of the best apps required email to get the product to the intended recipient. With this trial goes the responsibility of additional supervision on the teacher’s part and embedded instruction in digital citizenship.

The iPad : Toy or Tool?

There has been quite a bit of discussion in our district and in many others about the value of iPads for education.  Some still consider it a toy and are concerned with passive screen time. Mrs. Isom’s Writer’s Workshop is just one of many authentic learning activities that the talented teachers across our district ( and in many other districts) are doing that integrate iPads along with other digital tools. Research and opinion pieces are now surfacing stressing the difference between passive screen time and engaged or learning screen time. Here is a recent one from Harvard Health:

I would answer these concerns with the view that we trust our children to our teachers every day. We trust teachers to provide meaningful and engaging learning experiences, whether it is with crayons and scissors, books and paper, a video clip and a follow up discussion, or digital tools such as computers and iPads. The advent of iPads brings mixed ideas to the conversation, because many of us saw the iPad first as a toy or an entertainment device for our children. We would pass it to them to keep them occupied. While the iPads can still be used in this way, we have to trust our educators when they say: “The iPad is not just a toy, it’s an educational tool.”  ….Trust  and watch and be amazed at what teachers and students can do with the addition of this tool to their learning toolboxes.

Post by Margie Brown Eanes EdTech



11 responses

  1. Hi! My name is Jesse and I am currently a student at SUNY Geneseo studying Early Childhood/ Childhood Education. This semester we will be implementing the use of iPads into our lessons. I thought this blog demonstrated a valuable and beneficial way to include the use of iPads into the classroom. There are so many apps available that students can use to develop all different kinds of skills. I really liked that Story Kit allows to students to write a sentence along with their pictures. I also like that the app allows for the stories created by students to be published. This is a great way to validate all the hard work the child put into making their individual stories. I hope to be able to include a workshop like this in my own classroom one day.

  2. Hi! My name is Mike, and I’m a college student studying early childhood/childhood education with special education. I have been exploring and analyzing the use of iPad apps in pre-k and kindergarten classrooms and loved this blog post. The integration of Story Kit into writing workshop is seamless, and the fact that students can publish their work is a phenomenal way to finish the writing process. I am very impressed at how successful and independent these young students are with Story Kit. Currently, I work in a self-contained classroom that has 1:1 iPads for students; the iPads (loaded with games, both educational and not) are usually used as incentives rather than for educational purposes, because they are so effective at motivating the kids. I found the “Toy or Tool?” section of this post very interesting and appreciate that there is a link to the Harvard studies included – I’ll be sure to share it with colleagues and peers. This post is an excellent resource, and I’m eager to try it with my own students. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hello everyone! My name is Danielle and I’m a sophomore Childhood/Special Education major at SUNY Geneseo. I think the application “Story Kit” is such a user-friendly and interesting tool for such young children to utilize. It’s truly amazing what the iPad can do to promote positive literacy experiences for emergent readers and writers. In my opinion, children today are constantly connected– whether they’re watching their parents on their iPhones, or FaceTiming with relatives abroad, they understand that there is a global community out there. Entering their work into cyberspace and allowing them to see who reads and comments on their work is an amazing way to slowly integrate them into this community. As for iPads only being a “toy,” and not an educational tool, I have to disagree: integrating them as a classroom tool at such a young age enforces the idea in these children that iPads are for learning– the web-surfing and texting doesn’t come until much later. Thank you so much for your informative blog post!

  4. Hey everyone! My name is Colleen and I am a Childhood/Special Education major studying at SUNY Geneseo. I am so happy that this activity has been shared with a larger community. I feel as if projects such as these foster various literacy, social, and geographic skills! The creativity that these types of activities allow students seem to make for a very motivated and excited class. In our curriculum class this semester, we are being introduced to the iPad and the many tools it offers when it comes to teaching children. I am very excited to continue learning about what this piece of technology has and how to incorporate such techniques into my future classroom.

  5. Hello. My name is Samantha and I am an Early Childhood and Childhood Education major at SUNY Geneseo. My class and I have been recently introduced to the opportunities provided by using iPads in the classroom. I have not yet attempted this but after reading about your experience with implementing the iPads in your classroom, I am very excited to do so. I have been in classrooms previously where iPads are being implemented but only as an observer. I noticed that students seem to be very focused and engaged when using the iPads. I also noticed that students exhibited strong independence with the iPads, they needed little to no help from the teacher and were able to efficiently partake in the activities they were assigned. So overall I agree that implementing iPads in the classroom would be more beneficial than not. I agree that when implemented efficiently it can be used as an educational tool rather than just a toy.

  6. Hello! My name is Ashley Lee and I am currently student at SUNY Geneseo majoring in Early Childhood/Childhood Education. This semester for my education class, we were given an iPad to implement lessons and I definitely have to agree that iPad can be used for educational purposes. I have learned that there are so many educational apps like ebooks, games, and learning tools that can be easily used by young children. I read your posts and I really enjoyed reading about draft book and I like how it helped children in planning out their ideas before actually putting them on the iPad. I also liked how Story Kit was used to publish the children’s work! I really enjoyed using the iPad with students from my practicum classroom and I really found myself enjoying it a lot! I believe that technology is really crucial in the classroom.

  7. Hello, my name is Hae. I am a student at SUNY Geneseo and studying Early Childhood education. I implemented my literacy, environment, and music lessons with iPad and children enjoyed the lessons by using their tactile. Implementing with iPad provided children the opportunity to explore their creativity and imagination. The children allowed to experience enjoy memories such as coloring and drawing pages with various types of art materials, recording their thoughts, and creating documentations. There exist a variety of educational apps on the market and I believe the gorgeously animated interactive apps with music and sound effects enrich the children’s learning experience. The children participated actively and it was easy to grab the children’s attention for me. I had fun with iPad lessons with young children and it was beneficial to use in educational purpose.

  8. Hi! My name is Camille and I am also an education student at SUNY Geneseo. I really enjoyed reading this post because it emphasized that teachers should be trusted with teaching children using technology in our classrooms. Some apps are great for children to use. I recently used an iPad app called Draw and Tell HD with a couple of preschool students. They loved using it to create art on an iPad. While that was only one picture, I liked what you talked about here – where the students are making whole books. It’s a great idea!

  9. Hello. My name is Ashley. I am a senior college student studying Early Childhood and Childhood Education in Geneseo, New York. This semester we were loaned out an iPad to bring into a preschool classroom and use with the students. I definitely agree that the iPad is not only a toy, but can also be used for educational purposes! There are so many applications that can be used for creating books (like the one you used), reading books, learning activities, exploring music and science, and documenting children’s learning. It is a great way for students to do activities that they can show later and you can keep on file for documentation. I love the way you used the iPad in this workshop and I think it was a particularly great idea to have them do their work in a draft book first. This workshop seems dedicated to using the iPad for educational purposes and not just using it for a toy. It gives the children the impression that they are doing professional work when they first draft and edit before taking it to the iPad. In a previous literacy class we were told one of the most important steps for young children’s writing is publishing and this application allowed you to publish their work across the globe! I am sure that meant a lot to them and showed them the importance of their work, even just as Kindergartners. When I have a classroom of my own I plan to have a workshop like this and I hope to be able to give my students an opportunity like the one you have given yours. Technology really is an important tool in the classroom!

  10. Hi! My name is Katie and I am an education student in the Rochester, NY area. We have been talking a lot about how great the use of iPads are for literacy development this semester, and I found this blog to show a very useful example of how writing can be developed using iPads. I loved that this app allowed students to now only draw pictures, but also work on their language development, by writing a sentence on each page. The idea of a draft book is one that I think really helps students to plan out their ideas before putting them on the iPad, which reiterates the importance of editing before “publishing” their work. Overall, I hope to one day have access to iPads in my classroom so that I can do similar writing workshops with my students.

  11. I just shared this with one of our K teachers who was looking for new ideas for iPad publishing. Thanks for sharing your process! Also, thanks for the link to my Creative APP-titude resource site.

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