Common Sense

TOP PICKS | 41 TOOLS

Best Tech-Creation Tools

Students love to make and create to demonstrate what they're learning. However, teachers know that the creative process isn't just about having students demonstrate what they already know; it's also about getting students to construct mental models and learn through experience. By making things, students build meaning, work through problems, and acquire new knowledge and skills in context. There's built-in challenge to creation that gets students thinking in new ways while building their confidence. With this in mind, we've compiled this list of terrific tools for tech creation that offer a wide variety of engaging end products kids can create, from stories to animations to music to games. 

Continue reading

Top Picks

RELATED

PrintPrint list

Video and Animation

Easy Studio Stop-Motion Studio

Ideal, easy-to-use way to help kids learn basic animation

Bottom line: This introduction to digital animation offers lots of opportunities for creativity for young students.

Shadow Puppet Edu

Resource-rich video slide-show maker a gem for a variety of classrooms

Bottom line: Easy-to-use free tool is a must-have for elementary classrooms; just keep an eye on sharing and privacy.

Green Screen by Do Ink

Versatile, easy-to-use moviemaker yields great results

Bottom line: High-quality movie maker has numerous uses for students projects.

Screencastify

Easy screen-recording tool facilitates outside-the-box teaching

Bottom line: If you're able to access a Chrome product, Screencastify lets teachers and kids communicate in new and creative ways.

Binumi

One-stop shop for creating and assigning beautiful video stories

Bottom line: Set students up for storytelling success with quality content and tools in a safe environment.

Explain Everything Classic

Classic version of dynamic presentation tool still excites

Bottom line: Teachers and students can make dynamic presentations that involve different types of media in this innovative, fun app.

Animoto

Create snazzy video slide shows with simple, flexible features

Bottom line: Slick music videos and slide shows are easy to make, but students need more controls to personalize them.

Clips

Create and share videos with cool effects, tons of language options

Bottom line: This slick video creation app is fun, empowering, and accessible in lots of languages, but be careful with sharing.

Prezi Classic

Stylish presentation creator with a unique 3D zooming effect

Bottom line: An elegant, flexible alternative to other online slide software tools, but it requires some finesse to make the effective use of the features and infinite canvas.

Coding and Game Design

Minecraft: Education Edition

Stellar collaboration tools, controls make Minecraft classroom-ready

Bottom line: An excellent tool to engage students in learning, collaboration, and critical thinking is now more accessible than ever to teachers.

Scratch

Jump-start future programmers with adaptive sandbox tool

Bottom line: With plenty of time and support, Scratch can help kids of all ages learn essential programming concepts.

Itch

Full-featured tool makes teaching with Scratch easier than ever

Bottom line: Here you'll find resources for teaching with Scratch and a complete management tool to support student learning.

The Infinite Arcade by TinyBop

Simple game-design app has endless creative potential

Bottom line: Design, play, and improve your own arcade games.

Bloxels: Build, Play, & Share Your Own Video Games

Making games using physical cubes is fun, despite execution issues

Bottom line: Designing games with physical manipulatives, while fun, can ultimately lead to frustration.

littleBits Invent

Top-notch tool empowers kids to invent, build, and control wirelessly

Bottom line: Easy-to-use, versatile electronic invention set that works wirelessly with your hand-held device.

Minecraft

Spiraling sandbox of adventure and creation gets kids to dig deep

Bottom line: An irresistible and seemingly limitless incubator for 21st-century skills that, with a little guidance, can chart new courses for learning.

Google CS First

Middle school CS platform offers stellar resources, organizing tools

Bottom line: If your middle school doesn't have a CS program or club, now you do!

Tynker

Cute, colorful coding platform caters to strong independent readers

Bottom line: Students will be empowered by custom-coding creations for a variety of platforms, but may need some reading support to complete lessons.

Gamestar Mechanic

Captivating manga romp teaches kids game design

Bottom line: This terrific and affordable toolset teaches kids how to design games and shows teachers how to use games to teach.

Mozilla Thimble

Inspiring platform teaches coding through remixing

Bottom line: Thimble is an excellent, free resource for teaching students to code through experimentation.

Ready Maker

Fun and easy game design yields surprisingly complex creations

Bottom line: With teacher support, Ready Maker is a creative introduction to coding and game design.

Stencyl

Code-free game development tool helps kids program and publish

Bottom line: It ups the sophistication of building block coding by connecting student work to major publishing platforms.

GameMaker Studio 2

One of the best creation tools available for aspiring game developers

Bottom line: Provides teachers with the best choice for a full unit or class on game design, and gives students a tool to help them realize their game-making dreams.

LearnToMod

Effective springboard to coding for dedicated Minecraft fans

Bottom line: For students who already know and love Minecraft, this is a valuable way to hook students into coding.

Thunkable

Build a working iOS or Android app, even without coding experience

Bottom line: A great way to help motivated students create real apps, though others will need more support.

GameSalad

Great interface, flexible publishing options make game-making a snap

Bottom line: Engaging interface and tutorials will empower budding game designers, but the price tag could be a deal-breaker for tight school budgets.

Bloxmob

Create and share apps even without the coding know-how

Bottom line: Create real-world apps right away and make ideas come to life.

Art and Design

3D Slash

Minecraft-like 3D modeling (and printing) made super easy for all ages

Bottom line: This may be the fastest, cheapest route from idea to 3D printing out there, if you don't mind low-res, pixelated designs.

Adobe Capture CC

Magical design tool extracts colors, patterns, and more from images

Bottom line: The rare combo of "wow" factor and utility, this tool help students recognize and use the designed world around them.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Top-notch photo editor helps perfect pics for creative projects

Bottom line: This is a powerful, free creation tool from the industry leader in photo editing.

Office Sway

Cool scroll effects, flexible features boost visual storytelling tool

Bottom line: A great tool for design and presentation, if great visuals and easy sharing trump having some active viewing features present in other tools.

SketchUp

Make learning meaningful through 3D design

Bottom line: SketchUp is a fantastic, subject-agnostic tool that does take time to learn but helps students gain truly useful, transferable skills.

Tinkercad

Amazingly simple yet powerful and flexible online CAD tool

Bottom line: A big step forward in making 3-D design more accessible and social.

Autodesk Sketchbook

Impressive creation tool for teens serious about art

Bottom line: Gives students easy access to professional tools for creating digital art.

Music and Recording

GarageBand

Amazingly powerful audio workstation unleashes creativity

Bottom line: There's exceptional functionality in this solid, all-inclusive audio workstation that's fantastic for high-quality, anytime, and anywhere audio recording and sharing.

Auxy Studio - Music & Beat Maker

Loop beats like a pro with stellar music-maker

Bottom line: A stellar, approachable tool for constructing your very own digital beats and tracks.

Flat

Terrific composition tool empowers budding musicians to create, share

Bottom line: An excellent tool for writing and sharing musical creations.

Storytelling

Storybird

Social storytelling fun; artwork inspires, but limits creative freedom

Bottom line: For anyone interested in kid-authored storybooks, this is a great resource.

Pixton

Popular comic creation tool well-tuned to classrooms

Bottom line: Students will be motivated to share subject knowledge using the fun language of comics.

Sutori

A slick way to share knowledge via interactive timelines and stories

Bottom line: With a super simple design, interactive features, and an imaginative personal approach, it's an easy and flexible tool for all kinds of classrooms.

Twine

Cool interactive story creator can both dazzle and baffle

Bottom line: Twine is a fascinating tool to build interactive stories, but the "function first" interface means it'll take patience and time.

Get tips for using these tools in the classroom

See related resources