Find more Writing & Storytelling apps suggested by our growing community of teachers and parents.
About the Apps
Every great story has a beginning, middle, and end. While the iPad has the potential to transform how elementary students learn to write, the vast majority of storytelling apps available today are just scratching the surface.
It is still easier to write with a keyboard or pencil than it is on a touchscreen device, but the best storytelling apps on the iPad, like Toontastic, put kids in the director’s chair to spin their own multimedia yarns.
What’s great about Toontastic is that rather than relying on cartoon characters to sweeten a grammar or spelling lesson, the app teaches kids the craft of storytelling through clever animation. And while we don’t often recommend $10 apps, the “All Access” version of Toontastic is worth every penny. Don’t believe us? Sample the free version first and then upgrade.
There is no shortage of “Mad Libs" apps available for the iPad. The best - the only ones worth downloading - spin funny stories and also challenge kids to expand their vocabulary and understand proper grammatical tenses. SparkleFish is the best of the bunch. The stories are current, the narrator is playful, and - best of all - the “fill in the blank” phrases are recorded so kids hear their own voices as part of the mix.
Arguably the most comprehensive app in this category is Rainbow Sentences. Here, kids are encouraged to construct sentences based on illustrations they see on the screen. They have a series of words and phrases to choose from, which can also be color coded for instruction and simplicity.
StoryPatch is the best app for letting kids create their own picture books. While the tutorial may require a few readings for both you and child, once everybody gets the hang of this app it will be very difficult to put down. Unlike many similar apps, StoryPatch emphasizes writing as much as the placement of illustrations. It is also a great deal at $2.99.
There are a lot of word games that ask kids to complete a given sentence or phrase. Like Mad Libs, these are great creative triggers that can inspire entire stories. They can also get pretty old rather quickly. What separates Shake a Phrase from the bunch is an entire mode devoted to finding all the verbs or adjectives on a given screen. Who ever knew that diagramming a sentence could be so much fun?
The one common attribute missing from most storytelling and writing apps - including those endorsed above - is a formal way for parents and teachers to track progress (aside from, of course, being able to read, see, hear and learn what your kid has to say). We are still waiting for developers to write the next chapter in this saga.
Comments & Suggestions Have a suggestion for an educational app for this category you think we should feature? Let us know.
How are apps scored?
Apps are scored using a proprietary evaluation rubric to judge Educational Content, Kid Appeal, Assessment, Features and Design, Value, and Safety and Privacy.