The apps I describe here allow you to take pictures of yourself, use student-created artwork, or create digital likenesses of people and animate the images. Most often, the apps in this category are considered solely for entertainment purposes. So, why am I discussing their relationship to education? As teachers, it is our job to teach, motivate, and inspire our students. Using apps like the ones mentioned here are a great way to incorporate all three. For example, writing book reviews is an important skill for students to learn, but let’s be honest; it’s not always the most engaging activity. Adding these apps into the mix, I’ve found, can change students’ attitudes completely. When students know that their final review will be animated, the previously loathed activity morphs into a venture students can’t wait to try. In an educational environment, the uses for these apps are as diverse as the children (and adults) they were created for.
ChatterPix Kids (free)
With the ChatterPix Kids app, by Duck Duck Moose, students animate using pictures of themselves and others or an imported digital picture they have drawn. Once the chosen images are added to the app, students use their fingers to draw lines where they would like a mouth to be inserted. Next, students create voice recordings to correspond to their pictures. Finally, accessories such as sunglasses and funny hats can be added. The final product shows the original image, but the line has turned into a mouth that opens and closes with each recorded syllable. Videos can be uploaded to YouTube or the iPad camera roll for sharing.
I have used this app frequently in my classroom, but my favorite activity occurred with my kindergarten students. Using the iPad, students drew pictures that corresponded to initial sounds they were assigned. We saved these images to the camera roll and then imported them into ChatterKids. The kindergartners then drew lines where they wanted the mouths to be, and each student recorded the letter and the object corresponding to his/her picture. For example, the child assigned “A” illustrated a picture of an apple, drew a line in the middle of the apple, and recorded herself saying, “A is for apple.” Her final video showed her apple saying, “A is for Apple.” Once every student finished, all the projects were uploaded onto a ThingLink (an incredible interactive corkboard), resulting in a digital alphabet book. Read TWA Review of Thinglink HERE.
Tellagami (free with in-app purchases)
Tellagami, by Tellagami Labs is used for the same purposes, but the general make-up of this app is different from ChatterKids and YAKiT Kids. In Tellagami, students choose the physical characteristics of a character (skin color, hair color, and style, clothing, shoes, etc.) and add a background (office building, home, forest, and so on). For extra personalization, students are also able to create a background of their own by drawing or importing a picture from the Internet. Just like the other two apps, students make a recording to animate their character’s mouth. However. Tellagami will automatically animate the character’s arms and hands The free version of this app offers a limited selection of clothing and hair styles as well as a 30-second recording time limit, but I find the free version to include just enough choices to keep the app interesting. The additional features can be purchased for $1.99.
My fourth graders used the free version of this app to record themselves reading paragraphs they wrote about famous African Americans. Their assignment was to write a paragraph describing their research subject’s childhood, including where the person grew up, his/her level of education, and whether they thought the person had a good childhood. Next, students designed digital characters to resemble their subjects and added an era-appropriate background to the design. Finally, students recorded their paragraphs using the Tellagami app. I created a rubric, graded their final products, and gave the grades to their writing teachers.
Katie Chirhart is a National Board Certified Teacher and has been teaching for sixteen years. She has specializations in early childhood and reading. Recently, she finished her Campus Technology Certification. She began her career in College Station, TX teaching a full inclusion pre-kindergarten class. Currently, Katie lives and works in Shreveport, LA. After spending ten years teaching third grade, she now teaches in an elementary iPad Lab. When time allows, she enjoys working with teachers far and wide sharing the wonders of technology. Her current job is a dream come true.