Storytelling with Technology

Storytelling with Technology

Many people are both excited about the possibilities and concerned about the potential risk associated with screen time, especially in the lives of young children. Technology is not going away and we shouldn’t be hiding from it. At the same time, we do need to be mindful of when, where, why and how we are using tech tools so that we can maximize the benefits of these tools and minimize the potential risks. Storytelling with technology is one way to do just that. There are so many tools available for building early literacy skills, so be sure to check out the links below for additional resources to help you find high quality apps for your family and classroom.

Raising Screen Savvy Kids starts with using the technology that you have available to you. You do not need the latest, most expensive gadget to use technology in meaningful ways. The word processing activity can be done on a computer at home or at your local library. The goal of each activity outlined below is to encourage children to share their stories using technology as a tool. I often look for tech tools that allow me to reinforce values that I am already trying to teach my kids. One of the reasons that I enjoy these activities is that they allow me to demonstrate to my kids what I tell them often, which is that their voices matter. Upon completion of each activity, children have stories they can treasure and share with their loved ones.

Activity I - Using a Word Processor
When my co-founder was working as a preschool teacher, some of the other teachers were using a pen and paper for this activity. Being a Millennial, she found it easier to use a word processor. The point is not what technology you are using, but how you choose to use it that really matters.

Instructions - Sit down in front of the computer with the child, and make sure they can see the screen. Invite the child to tell you a story. You are going to type what they say exactly as they say it. Try to avoid correcting the child as they tell their story as it can discourage them from opening up. Once the child finishes telling their story, you can print out the words (break up the sentences onto different pages if you like) and invite them to illustrate the story.

When I first did this activity with my son, he took the hard copy of his story to bed with him that night. That was several years ago and to this day, he still enjoys writing his own stories.

Activity II – Using a Tablet
I use an application called “My Story” for this activity. It is simple for the kids to use and I like the fact that their stories can be shared without requiring family and friends to download or pay for anything.  

Again for this activity, the child is the storyteller. The adult assists the child by typing the child's story until the child is old enough to type themselves. Once the words are typed, the child can illustrate the story, select a background and even record their own voice-over. This is one of my favorite features of the "My Story"app. As the child grows, parents and caregivers have a memorable audio recording of the child’s voice at an early age. The child can revisit their story later, reflect and make edits, as well.

If you like these activities, I encourage you to check out Common Sense Media’s list of storytelling apps here (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/storytelling-apps) or use one of these checklists (kidmap or Fred Rogers Technology Integration Checklist) to evaluate the quality of apps that you find. There are many, many apps available for storytelling activates with young children with new apps and websites coming out all the time. Have fun and make some memories together with technology!

Sample story from a childusing "My Story" app.

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