The Grade 1 students will be focusing on the Central Idea that “Solutions to problems can be found through cooperation.” This topic lends itself for integrating technology into this Unit of Inquiry (UOI), where the students will be asked to come up with digital stories that show the students’ creative side in solving problems within their group.
Here is a simple script that I created in order to create my own story using both Puppet Pals and Toontastic. I believe that for students to have success when creating digital stories, planning and writing out a logical script or outline is the key no matter what app / technology is used!
Not only are digital stories a great way for shy and withdrawn students to express their creativity and ideas, but also, they enable other students to practice their storytelling skills at their own pace and comfort level.
For this UOI, Puppet Pals HD (Director’s Pass $3.99US) is an easy app that students can use to create their own problems and solutions through story telling.
With the paid version, students can take photos of each other to use as characters, and they can even customize their own background by selecting photos from their Camera Roll.
Here is a video I created as an example using Puppet Pals to show conflict resolution during recess:
Note: students can also use action figures / lego figures.
Another app that is suitable for storytelling is Toontastic HD. Some difficulties I find when using Puppet Pals is that students can end up rambling if they don’t write up a script beforehand. Therefore, what I like about Toontastic is the Beginning/Middle/End prompts that are sectioned for ease of use. Students can take their time to record each part of the story, step by step. Then, they can re-enact the story using the characters provided.
Although Toontastic HD does not allow students to use customized characters from their camera roll, it does enable students to put their faces on the characters. Also, unlike Puppet Pals whose characters cannot move, Toontastic characters have moving body parts.
Toontastic does not allow a direct import of photos as background from the Camera Roll. Users can, however, draw their own background which might be difficult for younger students. To customize my own background, I painted the backdrop in green, and then used Green Screen by DoInk to incorporate my chosen photo as the background. This, again, might be complicated for younger users.
Here is before the editing using Green Screen by DoInk
Here is the after edit:
In summary, here is a comparison of Toontastic HD and Puppet Pals:
In conclusion, I feel that Toontastic has a more structured format that may be good with classes whose students need more guidance and prompts. However, if classroom teachers spend enough time to plan, write and edit students’ scripts and dialogues, stories created using Puppet Pals would turn out just as logical and complete.