Little Bird Tales is an online site used to create stories for younger students (I would suggest K-4). It is an excellent digital storytelling application. One can go online and access it, or if using a tablet, an app can be downloaded for free. One can sign up for free and create stories. Little Bird Tales walks students through each step of creating their story and their website is very user friendly. When creating the story, students can upload photos, draw images, or record from their own webcams. The students can upload their artwork by scanning it onto a computer and insert it into their book, the students can use online images, or the students can capture their own images using a camera. Students can also use the online art pad tool to create their art. Students’ stories can then be recorded (narrated by the student) or written with text. Here is a short demo video of Little Bird Tales:
In order to fully embrace the program, I decided to try it out for myself and created a mini story. I wanted to use different types of art, so you will notice in mine, I have a combination of illustrations that I drew on the programs online art pad, a photo that I downloaded from Compfight (I wanted to see how/if the attribution would show up), and a personal photo. I also used the microphone feature to record a mini story. You can check out my story here (just click “Click to view my tale”):
What are some strengths and weaknesses of this program?
One of the strengths of this program is the ability to use technology to create stories for students. Students no longer have to write out their stories and illustrate their pictures using pencils. They are able to use different forms of media to creatively share their stories. I believe this is a benefit to the program; students are able to creatively express themselves in different forms, rather than just sticking to one media. Another strength is the fact that the website aims to provide a safe web environment for children, which means they are free of advertising, merchandising, and links to other sites.
If a teacher were to get a teacher account, which is a paid account, they would be able to add students to their account, and therefore the teacher can monitor the students’ progress on their stories. In addition to this on the teacher account, teachers can create lessons that are interactive and share with their students. There are also pre-made lessons; however I was unable to access to assess these as I do not have the teacher account. I can see this being a benefit for those students who are absent from class, as the teacher could record their voice on their lesson.
In terms of weaknesses, I learned that when you are creating your stories, you must click save and each page that you create does not auto save for you. For students, this may be tricky, and as a teacher, you would need to ensure that you inform students they must click save.
Another weakness of this program is when a student runs into an issue or something they are not sure how to do, the websites “How to” guide is not written so students could easily read it. I believe that this section is more geared towards adults and therefore if students had issues with the program, they could not necessarily solve it themselves.
In using the free account, there is not a lot of quota that one gets. One gets 10MB and in my short tale that I shared above, I used 13% of that. Therefore, if using the free account, students could not have a multitude of tales saved.
How would I use this in the classroom?
I believe that this has multiple uses in the classroom. The most obvious is storytelling where students could create their own story (creative writing). Students could also use this program to retell a story. They could simply create four pages, a title page, a page for the beginning of the story, a page for the middle of a story, and a page for the end of the story. It would be an effective way for the teacher to assess the student’s comprehension of the story. Because this site gives the option of recording your voice, it would also be a great tool to illustrate to students how they read; are they fluent readers? Students could assess what they sound like when they read; do they stop at the punctuation, are their sentences choppy, etc. Further, it could be used to create a report, such as a science report, as one can add text to the page, as well as illustrations. This tool would also be valuable when doing group work and creating a presentation. Students could each work on their own page, while still working on the same “tale”.
I believe that Little Bird Stories is an excellent tool for students to use in the classroom. There are many possibilities of use for the classroom.