folktales, illustration, imagination, ipads, storytelling, writing

Writing Fairy Tales with K-2

Creating fairy tales with 1st graders

After reading and discussing fairy tales, StoryWorld cards give students an array of characters, settings, and magical elements to expand the possibilities of their fairy tales.

Here is how I used Storyworld cards to inspire kids to “tell” fairytales:
1. Pick your favorite versions of fairy tales. After reading, discuss the flow of the story:
Characters & setting: How does the storyteller set the scene, or introduce the characters and the setting.
Problem: What difficulties arise? What problem do the main characters run into?
Solution: how do the characters solve the problem? Does some kind of magic help them or do they use their cleverness and bravery and do it themselves?
Conclusion: In all fairy tales, no matter how horrible the conflict,or how numerous the problems, the main characters always overcome them.

2. Divide StoryWorld cards into three piles: character cards, magical element cards, and setting cards. Divide each pile between the groups. An adult should be assigned to each group so group according to how many adults you have.

3. Have small groups dictate their stories with the use of the cards. The adult records.

4. Type the stories, divvying up the text into pages, and give to the art teacher, keeping a copy for yourself.

5. On the iPad (I use Book Creator), or in Garageband on the computer, have same students read aloud the story page by page, creating a different audio track for each page.

Meanwhile…In art class, they can create the illustrations in an handmade book using whatever medium they are studying in art.

6. On the iPad, take photos of the illustrations. You will crop later, so don’t worry about the photos being perfect.

7. Open each photo, enhance and crop.

8. Open Book Creator and create a new book. Add the first picture. Add a text box and type in the words for the first page. You can create a background color to the text or leave it to bleed onto the illustration. Do the same for each page.

9. When you finish, Send to iBookShelf or save as a PDF and upload it to the Internet.

With Storyworld cards, their stories are full of wild adventures, like the best fairy tales–taking us through the darkness to the light!

digital_books, ipads

eBooks about inventions

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In collaboration with the science teacher Steve Younger, we conducted a short research unit on inventions. We wanted the kids to do basic research, but mainly wanted them to think about inventions and create a digital book. Research was only in the forms of dates, names, and cultural background. The main idea we tried to get across is that these inventions were made all around the world and changed lives all around the world. We tied it to the study of culture.

All the documents for the unit are here. If you scroll to the bottom of the page. You will find the task, the rubric, and the graphic organizer.

The kickoff was a period for them to use the app called Pettson’s inventions. They LOVED it!

Pettson’s Inventions: a wonderful free app

Kid-made ebooks at PS347
Kid-made ebooks at PS347

Concluding the unit, the kids shared their books (I synched them all so now we have a bookshelf on the iPad for inventions!) and we had a discussion about ebooks vs. print books.

Here are some of their profound observations:

1. Do you like reading ebooks or print books? Why?

Ruby: I like reading print books because they are easy to read. You don’t have to touch the screen. When you read a print book, you can just turn the page.

Pa Raiyon: I like reading ebooks because you don’t have to pick up the ipad you can just look down and swipe and go pick another book. You can just take the ipad out and read another book.

Roberto: On the iPad I like ebooks bc you can just make your own books on it. You can read everybody’s books and new books. And different collections like ASL.

Brittany: I like ebooks bc it is much easier to do it. Sometimes you don’t need to hold it.

2. What is the difference between ebooks and print books?

Brandon: The difference between the print and ebooks is because the ebooks are on the ipad and the print are alive in your hand.

Fendie: The difference between print and ebooks is the ebooks you can just use your fingers and in a print book you have to use your whole hand.

Jada: The difference between and ebooks and a regular book, when you are reading a print book you are not the person who wrote it, but an ebook you can write it and read it.

Pa Raiyon: The difference between ebooks and print books is well, you can on the print book you can take it out of the library and just read it. But on the ebooks you can sign it or say it while you are reading it and you can make your own video.

3. Do you like making ebooks or print books? Why?

Haneef: I like making ebooks because on an ipad you can make your own pictures and words and you can make your own fiction or nonfiction books and ebooks.

Shylene: I like print books because you get to draw and you get to do art.

Skye: I like making print books better because on the ipad people can mess up very easily and on paper it doesn’t make a huge line.

Eliza Jane: I like making ebooks because I get to draw alot and I love to draw.

Roberto: I like making ebooks because people can see it on the ipad. You can go on iBooks and they can see it.

Collettte I Like ebooks better because you can just like make your own story. You don’t have to think a long time and spend time writing, writing, writing. I don’t like paper books because you have to go out and get material for it. It is a lot of waste of time. But with ebooks just get the app.

Jada: I like ebooks better because it is easier when you writing sometimes when you erase it can get a hole on it and when you rewrite it, it is very dark and sloppy

Then I asked them what else they would like to create. This is their response. They clearly want to create the media they consume. We need to help them do that.


Digital Publishing, Notetaking, and Annotating on the iPad 2

I am going to give a short hands-on demo of ways to use the iPad to publish digitally, take notes, and annotate PDF graphic organizers tomorrow at the NYCDOE School Library Services Fall conference.

How to do it all in 50 minutes?

Demo marking up an IFC PDF in neu.annotate (5 min)
Demo giving feedback for student notes in Evernote (5 min)

Hands-on practice using Evernote – how to create and edit a note and invite people to share (15 min)

Demo Scribble Press for taking notes & publishing digitally & show flipsnack (5 min)

Hands-on practice using Scribble Press: each page a category/research question (15 min)

Questions & Applications on these and on iBooks Author (5 min)

So the goal is to have folks using the iPads for 30 minutes–more than half the time of the presentation!


ipads, videos

Discovery Education on Your iPad

Discovery Education on Your iPad

Did you know that you can now access Discovery Education resources from your iPad with their new iPad app/mobile login?

No, don’t download the app. There is none. Just go to on your iPad and log-in with your Discovery Education username and password. Email me if you don’t have it already. The iPad access works with educator and student accounts, giving you another way to use your classroom iPads with engaging curricular content.

Downfall? You can’t access the Closed Captioning videos, as far as I can tell. Nevertheless, there is a lot your kids can observe and discuss. The only other way to use our subscription to Discovery Education is on a PC. You cannot preview the videos on a Mac, and you can install a video player, but you have to download each video to preview. Ugh@!

Verdict for our community: Try the mobile version on your Macs and iPads. For CC videos, borrow a Dell from Room 220 to get the full version on

ipads, numberlys, picture_book_apps

Picture books apps on the iPad for Pre-K

Inspired by my having to review The Numberlys, I tested it out with our PK audience, a group of wonderfully bright 4 year olds, both Deaf and hearing. They loved it. They clapped and cried out in glee when they “made” a letter.

It was a delight! Nothing less. A delight! They were so conscious of the fact that they forged the letters themselves. It was amazing to watch.

Photos? Yes!