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Shadow Puppet Edu
Pros: Ideas galore are included in-app, with more resources available online.
Cons: Editing is possible but is a bit trickier than creating.
Bottom Line: Easy-to-use free tool is a must-have for elementary classrooms; just keep an eye on sharing and privacy.
Teachers will find many uses for Shadow Puppet Edu, and they don't have to look very hard to find them! About 30 project ideas are included in the Ideas section of the app, organized by topic. Ideas include a family heritage map, an art portfolio, a history recap, a news report, digital storytelling, a science experiment recap, a persuasive ad, and more. Each activity includes Common Core State Standards (CCSS) alignment. More teacher resources are available online, too, including printables for storyboard planning, story maps, and instructions. Teachers could create their own Shadow Puppet Edu videos to introduce topics in class or to post online for flipped learning.
Editor's Note: While Shadow Puppet Edu is still available, it hasn't been updated since 2015.
Using Shadow Puppet Edu, students can create video slideshows, adding their own narration and text. Videos can be up to 30 minutes long and can include up to 100 images, free for classroom use. A video tutorial demonstrates how to make a video, and several sample videos are included as well. To create a new video, students tap the Create New icon and choose their images from the several resources included: the camera roll, other app libraries on the device, the Library of Congress, Maps, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Library, NASA, and NOAA, as well as results from web searches that can be done within the app. Students just tap the images to include them. They can reorder images or move on to recording sound and adding text. To narrate the video, students simply hit Start and talk while they scroll through the images. They can zoom in on certain parts of the image as they speak, or add text or clip art.
When finished with their creations, students click Save and can then share the video via social media. It's automatically saved to the device's camera roll and online, accessible via a direct link. Slideshows can also be shared directly into Seesaw: The Learning Journal.
Shadow Puppet Edu has so many excellent features that it's a creative must-have for elementary classrooms. Older grades would still find it useful, but it's easy enough to use that the youngest presenters will appreciate it the most. The teacher resources are impressive and inspiring, giving ideas for using digital creation across the curriculum. It's very easy to use, with a clear video tutorial and intuitive controls. Pretty much the entire process (minus planning) can be completed in-app; no need for students to search for their images, save them to the device, and then open Shadow Puppet Edu. Everything can be found and quickly added to the slideshow from within the app, meaning one less step to walk students through and one less opportunity for distractions. Students can really personalize their presentations, adding their own narration.
Sharing their creations is simple, as well. All the videos are saved to a specific web address that can be shared and accessed via the link. Social media sharing links are accessible behind a fairly weak adult lock ("Press and hold this button"), so teachers should talk to students about privacy issues and acceptable sharing before they create their videos.