Apps, Creative Thinking, Education, K-5, Parenting

Put That iTunes Gift Card to Good Use

In yesterday’s post, I offered some ideas for free apps to add to children’s iPads for creating.  Today I am giving a few recommendations for paid apps in that same category that are, in my opinion, well worth the money.

As I mentioned yesterday, I think that it’s essential that these apps are accompanied by some adult guidance.  Of course, children will need to explore and create on their own.  However, they will also become much more engaged with some suggested ideas and encouragement.  That is why I am adding a few resources with each app that I list so parents/caregivers/teachers will have examples and recommended activities to which they can refer.

Here are some of the paid apps that are great for creating:

Green Screen by Do Ink ($2.99): This is the easiest green screen app I’ve ever used.  If you record someone or something in front of a green screen, you can easily insert whatever still picture or video you would like to replace the screen.  Now, most families don’t have a green screen at home.  But there are plenty of DIY suggestions on the web for making them out of various materials such as poster board or pizza boxes.  (You can also find some for less than $20 on Amazon.) Teachers who have interactive white boards can try this idea for making a quick green screen.  Here is some help from Do Ink on using the app, but  their video tutorial (included in the app) is very useful, too.  Here is an entire Pinterest Board of Green Screen production ideas.

A TypeDrawing "Self-Portrait" created by one of my 5th graders
A TypeDrawing “Self-Portrait” created by one of my 5th graders

TypeDrawing ($1.99): The TypeDrawing app does exactly what its name implies; it allows you to draw with words.  This can be anything from adding words to a picture or creating an entire landscape out of words.  My students love this app, and always amaze me with the variety of products that come from using it.  Here is one neat idea for doing a portrait. You can find some other examples of its use here. One project my students did with TypeDrawing was to add their character traits to a photo that symbolized them in some way.  This app really lends itself to app-smashing, too (using it in combination with other apps to create).  For example, create something in TypeDrawing, and then use it as a background in the Green Screen app.

Book Creator ($4.99 on iOS, $2.49 on Google Play):  I am going to admit that I have not used this one in the classroom yet.  However, I have read an extraordinary amount of positive reviews of this app on education blogs.  If your child has any aspirations to become an author and/or illustrator, this may be the one app worth buying. Users can create e-books, PDF’s, and even videos.  Imagine the fun of seeing a book published by you on your iBooks shelf.  Scrapbooks, fiction, how-to manuals, and whatever your imagination dreams up can be produced with this app.  Here is a Pinterest Board full of ideas just in case you don’t know where to start.

If you are looking for more apps for kids, along with reviews, you may want to head on over to Graphite, which has an extensive list and allows you to filter your search using several criteria.

Apps, Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Teaching Tools, Videos, Web 2.0

Tellagami, TypeDrawing, and Aurasma – an Awesome App Smashup

UPDATE:  Tellagami no longer offers the text-to-speech or customization in the free app.  You can read more about the Tellagami changes here.

I originally found the term “app-smashing” on TechChef4u.  According to Lisa Johnson, the term was first coined by Greg Kulowiec, and she gives some great examples in her post, “App Synergy: The Art Form of App-Smashing.” I’ve been smashing apps for awhile – though I didn’t know that was what I was doing.  When you use the iPad as a creation tool, it’s natural to begin combining apps in order to refine your creations.  It’s rare to find one app that will meet all of your creative needs, and it’s fun to see the new ways to fuse different ones together. Last year, my students often used Puppet Pals, along with Aurasma, to create 2-d bulletin board presentations that morphed into 3-dimensional ones when scanned with an iDevice (see the post, “Misunderstood Monsters” for an example). When I learned this summer about the release of a free animation app called “Tellagami“, I saw immediately that it could be used in a similar manner to Puppet Pals.  The fun twist to Tellagami is that it allows you to choose an avatar to speak for you.  You can type the words, and select the person as well as the accent. I really don’t like speaking in front of groups.  I know this sounds odd coming from a teacher, but I am much more intimidated by a congregation of adults who would prefer working in their classrooms to listening to me, than to an enthusiastic group of curious kids.  So, I decided to enlist Tellagami to help me with a presentation that I needed to give to our staff. (As a side note, I used iMovie on my Mac at home to weave several Tellagami’s together.) Tellagami, like the all-access version of Puppet Pals, allows you to add your own backgrounds, and that is where I used TypeDrawing for one piece of the introductory video that I used.

Tellagami + Type Drawing
Tellagami + Type Drawing

I created an Aurasma scavenger hunt for the staff.  They went around the school to find papers with images to scan.  Each image triggered a new Tellagami video that give them a little bit of information about the GT program.  (I would share the presentation with you, but it’s specific to our district’s GT program.) Tellagami videos can be saved to your Photos on your iPad.  And, one easy way to get your images to use with Aurasma is to play your Tellagami (or any other) video, pause it, and take an iPad screen shot.  You can even use the editing tool in Photos, then, to refine the image.  Then, open your Aurasma app, match up the trigger image with the video, and you have a new “Aura.”  Be sure all participants are following your Aurasma channel.   Print out your Tellagami screen shots, and post them around the school if you are doing a scavenger hunt.  I like to put some kind of title at the top of each paper, so people do not remove them accidentally, like, “This is for a GT Presentation, so please do not remove.”  (If you are not familiar with using Aurasmahere is a basic introduction.  Also, I have a Flipboard magazine on Augmented Reality in Education.  You can search and subscribe on the Flipboard app, or you can access it on the web here.) I can’t wait to see how the students use Tellagami.  What I like about the concept of app-smashing is that it really brings another level of problem solving into using the iPads.  The students might want to do something with a particular app that does not have that feature, and they need to consider how to combine apps to achieve the result they desire.  I added a bunch of “creation apps” to my iPad over the summer, and I am working on getting them organized so the kids can do some more app-smashing of their own!

Apps, Art, Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Websites

Creating Silhouette Art with the iPad


I would be the first to raise my hand in a Superdome full of people if the following question was asked, “Who is the worst art teacher out there?”  But if I can find a way to integrate art and technology, my lessons are sometimes fairly successful.  This was one of those activities.

To complete this project we used the iPad camera, Tracing Paper Lite (free), and TypeDrawing ($2.99).  There is a web site, Texter, that performs like TypeDrawing, and is free.  However it does not have the font choices and the ability to import a picture as a background.

The students took pictures of each other in profile on the iPads.  Then they opened Tracing Paper Lite, imported their pictures, and traced their silhouettes.  If traced so that the silhouette has no openings, the students can then fill it with black paint.  Because they were using Tracing Paper Lite, which did not have an easy way to export their silhouettes, I had them take screen shots (be sure to get rid of the grid in the background first), and crop them in the Photo Album.  Then they opened TypeDrawing (here is a SnapGuide to using this app), imported the silhouettes, and added the traits that they felt characterized them.

I have seen this done without the use of technology, but the students enjoyed the freedom TypeDrawing gave to personalize the fonts, the colors, and even the direction of the words.  Does anyone else have ideas for how this could be used?

Art, Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Student Products, Websites

You are Your Words

For those of you who find it appealing to make pictures out of text, as in the iDevice apps TypeDrawing and WordFoto, there is a website that will also perform this function.  You are Your Words, sponsored by American Heritage Dictionary, allows you to upload your photo and text, and meld the two together.  There are some basic controls for changing the contrast and font types.  Once you have created your masterpiece, you can share it on Facebook or Twitter.  You can also download and save it.  An idea for using this might be to have students upload their pics (with parental permission, of course), and choose one or more quotes that they find meaningful.  This would make a great photo gallery in your classroom!

Apps, Art, Books, Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Language Arts, Student Products, Websites

Bembo’s Zoo

Bembo’s Zoo is a book available at Amazon.  But it is also an amazing website (UPDATE: 7/13/2023 — Because this site used Flash, it is no longer available, but you can see the animations that used to be on the site in this YouTube Video) that uses flash animation to delight the viewer with animals created from the letters that spell their names.  Visually, it is very appealing, and especially great for use on interactive white boards.  To use it for a learning activity, you might want to try showing it to your students, and then challenging them to create their own animals out of letters.  Extending further, some students might want to draw other objects using letters, or even create their own alphabet book with a different theme – such as inventions.  The app for iDevices, TypeDrawing, could be used for a similar activity.

Apps, Education, K-12, Motivation, QR Codes, Teaching Tools, Websites

QR Code Classroom Coupons (Revised)

In December, I posted some QR codes that could be used as reward coupons in the classroom.  I suggested cutting them out and putting them in your class treasure box so your students could be surprised.  My students loved them – until the website I had used to store the documents expired.  ( allows you to create QR codes for documents that you have uploaded for free, but, unbeknownst to me, they are only stored for 14 days.)

I have posted new coupons under my Weebly account, so these QR codes will not expire unless Weebly goes out of business or I remove the site.  These coupons were created with the iPad TypeDrawing app, which I highly recommend.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, you might want to put a QR code in each of your student’s Valentines.  They will enjoy scanning them to discover the reward you have given them.  Or, maybe get an old chocolate box, and let the students choose a “chocolate.”

If you are interested in using more QR Codes, you might also want to check out my QR Code Countdown, QR Code Tic-Tac-Toe,  and my QR Code Interactive Bulletin Board.

QR Codes – Classroom Coupons

QR Codes – Classroom Coupons Answers