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Little Bird Tales
Pros: Easy-to-use drawing tool and audio recording button make this tool accessible to kids of all ages.
Cons: Navigation and how-to takes a little getting used to; stories sometimes take a while to load.
Bottom Line: Digital creation tool offers lots of creative possibilities, allowing kids to showcase learning in a 21st-century way.
Teachers can ask individual kids to create stories, present research, document science projects or field trips, make photo slideshows, and more. All students have an individual account to make their own storybooks, or teachers can facilitate a whole class working together on a single storybook. Lesson templates, tied to Common Core Standards, give teachers a quick start to some creative ways to use this tool, although limited templates are available with the free account. The storyboard includes space for teacher instructions, so teachers can provide page-by-page guidance or just let kids create on their own. Teachers can take advantage of the voice recorder feature by recording their own voices for instruction or by allowing kids who aren't strong readers/writers to narrate their presentations.
Little Bird Tales offers a platform for kids to create digital storybooks. In their own unique accounts, kids use a drawing pad, upload images from a computer, add text, and record their own voices to create original slideshow stories. Teachers manage classes, add students, create their own storybooks, and browse pre-loaded lesson templates organized by grade. Lesson templates guide kids to complete such activities as reporting on folk tales from around the world with images, text, and audio narration, or counting dots from 1 to 100 by writing numbers on the dots and recording themselves as they count. When kids finish their stories, teachers can review their work on the teacher dashboard. Kids can choose to share their tales through email or post them on the Little Bird Tales website. (All tales are reviewed for inappropriate content before they're posted.) A free account allows a limited number of users, online storage space, and lesson plan templates; all users can print their storybooks or buy an mp4 download to keep. There's also a companion app.
As with all digital creation tools, Little Bird Tales' utility and learning potential is highly dependent on how the tool is used. The best tools allow for seamless learning with a user-friendly interface and lots of opportunities for kids to express themselves. Little Bird Tales does both fairly well. There could be more how-to help, but after an initial period of orientation, teachers, and even young kids, should find it easy to navigate and create stories. Kids don't even have to be reading, as the audio option allows them to narrate their presentations. And, with image upload and a reasonably extensive drawing board, kids have lots of ways to create. One missing feature is a video upload option.