4 Best Storytelling Apps for Building Social Skills

Great tools for self-expression and social interaction for all kids, especially those with special needs.

April 19, 2016
Emily Major Project Coordinator, Education Content
Common Sense Education


Looking for ways to encourage self-expression and social interaction? Storytelling is a powerful vehicle for all kids, especially those with special needs. Special education instructor Matt Poynter has found that social stories help students predict what might happen, as well as model coping strategies for unexpected situations. Social narratives provide opportunities for social and emotional learning (SEL) and can help kids manage emotions, modify behavior, interact with others, and much more!   

Why are these tools such a great idea? The hook is simple: Kids want to express themselves and tell stories about the interesting parts of their lives. Below are four great tools to use in the classroom:

Kid in Story Book Maker

Price: $6.99
Platform: iPad
Grades: Pre-K–1
Unique green-screen technology sets this app apart. Teachers or therapists can easily extract a kid's image from a photo to drop into one of several story templates. Or a story can be created from scratch using custom words and images. This creative tool is especially useful for kids with special needs, as well as young kids who struggle with social and communication skills. Seeing themselves star in stories about new situations allows kids to prepare for unfamiliar experiences. Another cool feature: A free downloadable reader allows kids to share their stories with friends and family outside the classroom. 

Social Stories

Price: $4.99
Platforms: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Grades: Pre-K–5
Geared toward kids on the autism spectrum, this app was created by Carol Gray, director of the Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding and an expert in the field of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A quick and simple way for kids to preview social scenarios, this tool prepares them for unfamiliar and unexpected situations they'll face in real life. As with other similar apps, each story can contain personalized images, text, and audio, which help engage most kids. The interface is fairly easy to use, but since there are no instructions it’s important for teachers to guide the creation and interpretation of these narratives.

Social Stories Creator for Educators

Price: Free to try; paid ($24.99)
Platforms: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Grades: Pre-K–12
The free version is a good way to get a feel for this app before paying for the pro upgrade. Great for kids with social challenges, this easy-to-use tool allows teachers to create social stories with personalized photos, audio, and text. The free version includes one premade story, allows users to create two stories, and provides in-app purchases for upgrades. The pro version includes a collection of premade stories that are searchable by category. Stories can be printed or shared with parents and other teachers who have the app. Although this tool provides sample stories, direction and suggestions for creating personalized stories would be helpful for teachers.


Price: $18.99
Platforms: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Grades: 1–5
It's fairly easy for kids of all ages to use this app, and teachers also have the option to connect a projector for collaborative class stories. Particularly valuable for developing social and organizational skills, this app provides a simple step-by-step tutorial to guide users through the process of creating a virtual storybook. Everything from voice, playback, authoring, interaction, appearance, and language can be changed in settings, which supports a range of learning types. While encouraging self-expression through personalized story creation, this tool can also teach kids about the art of storytelling. 
I'd love to hear about your experiences with these or other storytelling apps. Feel free to leave a comment below!