Media-Making Roundup

May 29, 2014
Ellen Holderman
Common Sense Education

CATEGORIES In the Classroom, Out-of-School Learning, Tools

All month long, we've been featuring great tools for media making and DIY in our blog posts, Top Picks lists, and product reviews. Here, we've organized a collection of our favorite media-making apps, sites, and games as a quick reference for any last student projects you may have on the calendar. This is also a great list to use if you want to make summer learning recommendations to parents or students. With these powerful tools, kids can create their own videos, animations, ebooks, video games, music, art, and more! See any we missed? Add your suggestions in the comments below!



Kids can demonstrate learning across a range of subjects with these easy-to-use animation tools. For summer enrichment, kids might create an animated version of a typical summer day (real or fictional), complete with key character types and a story arc.


ABCya Animate
Use ABCya Animate to show kids how animations are created. Once kids understand how animation works and how to use the tool, they can use it to create short animated movies to demonstrate their understanding in many other subject areas. Read full review.

Easy Studio - Animate with Shapes!
Easy Studio - Animate with Shapes! is a superb way to not only introduce kids to the process of animation but also help them experience how geometric shapes interact and combine to make other shapes, objects, patterns, and designs. Read full review.

Toontastic is a powerful and engaging tool for digital storytelling. It's visually appealing, has great in-app support and sharing features, and relies on self-created animation and narration to tell stories. Read full review.

Art and Design
Get serious about creativity with these three drawing tools. Whether kids are honing their drawing skills, getting creative with friends, or simply enjoying a creative adventure, these picks are fun in and out of the classroom. 


Night Zookeeper Drawing Torch
Ever wonder about what happens at the zoo when the sun goes down? With Night Zookeeper Drawing Torch, kids start an interactive adventure by roaring as loud as they can to turn on the "drawing torch." Read full review.

Procreate is a professional-level medium for digital artists. Its 48 brushes include sets of pencils, inks, paintbrushes, and digital tools. Kids can also create their own custom brushes or buy additional brushes. Read full review.

Scoot & Doodle
Google+ provides the “hangout” (e.g., video chat, the friends list), and Scoot & Doodle provides the drawing board, personal portfolio space, a gallery, and some creative prompts for inspiration. Read full review.

Game Making
From the seed of an idea to the culminating experience of exploring the finished project, designing games builds important 21st-century skills including critical thinking, problem-solving, and innovation.


Gamestar Mechanic
Kids learn in creative ways and are encouraged to be creative themselves. For example, they can customize games with their own artwork. Directions are clear and easy to follow; creations are real and playable. Read full review.

Minecraft is a sandbox game that rewards players for collecting and combining resources into new, useful items that enrich gameplay and help further exploration and creativity. Read full review.

Pixel Press Floors
Pixel Press Floors gives students the tools to create and customize their own video games -- bringing their ideas to life and allowing them to share their creations with a global community. Read full review.

Scratch is a project from MIT's Lifelong Kindergarten Group that teaches math, programming, and creative expression through technology. Read full review.

Music Production
Creating original music is more accessible than ever with these great tools that let kids sample, loop, and layer digital and live music. Kids can sing, rhyme, or rap about any subject for end-of-the year review. And summer is a great time to record family oral histories.


GarageBand can be used for an array of classroom experiences, from learning the elements of music to creating original songs and musical scores to recording live instruments and vocals. Read full review.

Kids put musical skills into practice as they create original compositions. They can change songs in a variety of ways, including transposing them or changing the time signature, and hear the outcome. Read full review.

Sound Shapes
Sound Shapes could be used to teach kids the basics of electronic music (loops, layering, digital sounds), music composition, and game design. Read full review.

Presentation Tools
The days of text-heavy, static presentation slides are over. With so many fantastic, unique tools available, you and your students can now build multimedia, animated, and even collaborative presentations. Beyond presentations, students can use these tools for digital storytelling or even as portfolios to share their work.


Educreations Interactive Whiteboard
The best part of this app is that it's easy to use while still providing enough options from which to source and use content, add audio, and display images to create highly engaging, descriptive lessons and presentations. Read full review.

Explain Everything
Your students can learn crucial 21st-century skills with Explain Everything. They can learn how to present information using multiple forms of expression (images, text, video, and audio) through digital technology. Read full review.

Teachers and students can turn ordinary slide presentations into more stylish and potentially more engaging experiences than those made with other presentation software. Read full review.

VoiceThread provides students of all ages an online platform to create and share media projects that can incorporate video, image, voice, and even drawings. Read full review.

Who hasn't dreamed of becoming a published author? Students can write their own textbooks, breathe life into their own fiction or poetry, or craft a "how-to" as a way to teach their peers a new skill. The sky's the limit with these ebook creators, both in and out of the classroom.


Book Creator for iPad
With guidance, even kids in early elementary school grades can use this technology tool to produce and publish their own simple books with images, videos, and audio. Read full review.

Kid in Story Book Maker
Kid in Story Book Maker includes several template stories where teachers, therapists, parents, or older kids can add their image right into the story. Read full review.

Whether kids are beginning writers or seasoned pros, StoryJumper provides an outlet for them to use their imaginations as well as learn some real writing strategy if they're ready for it. Read full review.

Video Creation
With these powerful video tools, students can demonstrate classroom learning, document school events, explore a topic in depth, and more. Whether they're creating an end-of-year class project or a video montage of summer antics, kids can use a range of effects and features to creatively explore and share their individual perspectives.


Animoto Video Maker
The world of digital storytelling gets cracked open with Animoto Video Maker. This tool lets kids 13 and older combine pictures, video, music, and text to make video slideshows on a mobile device. Read full review.

Mozilla Popcorn Maker
By helping kids annotate audio and video clips from the Web, Popcorn Maker encourages kids to research their topics and combine what they learn with their own ideas through pop-up word balloons and thought bubbles. Read full review.

Not only can kids create their own videos, they can also extend their videos by adding current events, social networking feeds, and other apps to make their videos more comprehensive and much more interesting. Read full review.


Rachelle Wooten
Digital Learning Specialist
Fort Settlement Middle School
Sugar Land, TX

Some other great apps, I've explored with are Adobe Voice and Adobe VideoBites! Adobe Voice is a digital storytelling app that provides a structure to building a story with question prompts! Check out Adobe Voice here: Adobe VideoBites is a video editing app. You can learn more here: