Thursday, July 19, 2012

Digital Story created with Strip Designer: Ten Apples Up on Top

My summer days have been filled with sun, lakes, gardening, volleyball and 100 degree days. But, it won’t be long and my thoughts will turn to crisp leaves, cool weather and apples.  Fall is my favorite season in Minnesota.  Mother nature paints the trees with vibrant colors and the trees at the local orchards are brimming with crunchy, crisp apples. In our preschool program, one of the first themes of the year is apples.  The preschool rooms smell like cinnamon and applesauce, students are voting for their favorite apples, and apple art projects decorate the doors and halls.  

One of our favorite books to read during our apple theme is Ten Apples Up on Top, by Dr. Seuss.  My goal for this iPad activity was to create a class counting book based on this book, so I turned to the app, Strip Designer.  Strip Designer is a comic book creating app that is very useful for digital storytelling, social stories and the creation of other visuals.  One of the handy features of this app is the ability to create your own stickers.

Here are screenshots of some sample pages. If you don't want to use real photos, you could use drawings instead.  For the second example, the child created the drawing on Doodle Buddy, saved it to the Photo Album and then I added it to a page.   

Set up:  Take a picture of each child in various poses, check out the book for inspiration.  Make sure to  leave plenty of space between the top of the child's head and the top of the photo.  Find an image of an apple you want to use for the sticker and download it into the Photo Album on the iPad.  

Create the comic book
Step 1: Open the Strip Designer app, choose Create New. Choose a page from the templates.
Step 2:  Add Photos and Text:  Tap Add Photo, choose Photo Album.  Choose a photo of a child.   Tap on text, add text. 
Step 3:  Add pages:  Tap Page (bottom left), then + on the bottom of the left hand sidebar.  This will add a page.  Repeat Step 2 with each child. 

Create the apple sticker
Step 1: Tap Add and a new menu will appear.  Tap Sticker, then Your Stickers.  Tap the +, then choose Photo Album and tap the apple image. 
Step 2: Choose the eraser tool and erase the white background around the apple. You will see a blurred image as you erase. You can resize the eraser tool to make it easier to get close to the edges of the apple. Select Save when the sticker is ready.  


Add sticker/s to page:  
Select the newly added sticker from Your Stickers.  Add the corresponding number of stickers to each page and resize the apple so they will all fit on the student's head.  Have the child drag the apples to the top of his or her head, counting them as they are added. Repeat this process for each child.

Share your final product:
Select Share (top right), preview the pages by tapping the arrow.  To do more editing, tap Back.  If the book is ready, select Share.  There will be several options for sharing.  You can open as a PDF in iBooks, email the PDF or send it to iTunes.  

Additional apple activities:  The blog, Toddlerbrain has some fun ideas for hands on counting and large motor (balancing apples on your head).  Mrs. Nelson's class shares many examples of creative apple activities for Kindergarten.  You Tube has an animated reading of the book, Ten Apples Up On Top. 

This app is easy to navigate.  I was able to create the pages quickly.  I used the app to create more traditional looking comics with some family vacation photos.  It was a unique way to document our summer road trip.  My next use of this app will be to create a class book for Caps for Sale, using some hat stickers.  Any other ideas?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Creating an interactive Visual Schedule on the iPad using Pages

I have not purchased a visual schedule app yet.  I know there are many available, I just haven't taken the time to research the apps and make a decision.  Our department uses schedules with many of our students for many different reasons.  We go through a large amount of expensive laminating film and velcro to create the schedules.  As an alternative, my co-worker recently created some schedules for her Interactive White Board. On the IWB, she used a garbage can for the "all done" box and she figured out how to move objects to the front and back so that the schedule pictures can hide behind the trash can.  As she demonstrated this activity, I remembered seeing this same "move to the front" and "move to the back" option while working with the Pages app on the iPad.  I tried this on the iPad using Pages and Keynote, it is a very similar process for both apps. Here is a video demonstration of the process using Pages.

Here is the process in screenshots.  The first two screenshots demonstrate how to add the pictures, create the grid and add the numbers using a text box. To make locating the pictures a little easier,  I created a Schedule Pictures album in my photo album app.  

After all of the pictures are in place, the garbage can needs to be moved to the front and the other pictures need to be moved to the back.  The screenshot above demonstrates how to do this.  First, tap the garbage can, then the paintbrush.  Move the switch to the far right, so the garbage can will be in the front.  Repeat this process with each schedule picture, moving the switch to the far left so that the schedule pictures will be in the back.  Make sure the schedule pictures are smaller than the garbage can so that they can be completely hidden when moved behind the can.

This schedule can be projected during circle time, allowing you to move each item to the garbage can when it is completed.  To move the object, tap on it until the blue box appears, then drag it to the garbage can.  You could also use Pages and the iPad to make a work station schedule, individual student schedule, or a sequence board for dressing and other tasks. Our program uses horizontal schedules, but you could make a vertical schedule by rotating the items.  It takes some practice and patience to become proficient at rotating objects on the iPad, but it can be done!  I am going to continue to post some other ideas for activities using Pages and Keynote, they are very versatile apps.