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Tools of the Trade

Novel Ideas

Everyone has a story. Help students share their big ideas and unique perspectives with engaging — and fun — resources. Making movies? Sure! Cartoons or novels? Why not? Tap into tech to support student storytelling in every creative way.

By Caeli Mazara

  1. Imagistory first two stories are free! US$2 for each additional

    This "wordless picture book" app supplies young writers with an engaging visual narrative and asks them to pen the story to go with it. Perfect for honing early literacy skills, this app is easy to use and offers six different illustrated tales to spark young imaginations.

    Grades: K to 3

  2. Toontastic 3D free!

    Inspire your students with this cartoon-building program that uses animation to bring their ideas to life (and will have them learning narrative concepts along the way, to boot). Students can select and personalize characters, and have those characters talking, walking and dancing with the touch of a finger.

    Grades: 1 to 5

  3. Scribble Press US$4.99

    Lauded as one of the best creative apps out there, Scribble Press lets students build their stories from the ground up. The app comprises some 300 drawing tools, backgrounds, stickers and music, and even allows the author to become part of the story with a photo uploading feature.

    Grades: K to 5

  4. Plume [French-language app] 1-, 3-, or 12-month memberships for 4.99–9.90€ monthly

    Created by a college professor and inspired by the Montessori method, this app offers four wordless animated stories to get students creating. With such subjects as "The Enchanted Forest" and "The Mysterious Island," students will love putting their own words to the illustrations.

    Grades: 3 to 7

  5. Animation & Drawing by Do Ink $6.99

    This app is the best of both worlds: it's easy to use but also really powerful. Students can craft a story, add animation and edit the whole thing, all in one program. Bonus: green-screen effects mean students can record and add themselves into the story, too.

    Grades: 3 to 8

  6. Elegy for a Dead World $16.99

    This one-of-a-kind storytelling platform markets itself as "a game about writing fiction," and is just that — a video game that invites students to build a fiction around it. With settings inspired by classic poets, this is an app sure to kindle students' imaginations.

    Grades: 4 to 12

  7. NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program free!

    The famous 30-day-novel program encourages students under the age of 18 to join the fun! The main challenge takes place in November but shorter projects can be undertaken at any time of year with the support of the program's website, which is chock full of grade-appropriate resources.

    Grades: 4 to 12

  8. Write the World free!

    This website hosts a young international writing community of students from more than 120 countries. Young authors share their writing, compete in contests and seek inspiration from peers. Teachers can create closed groups and delve into the program's resource pool of lesson plans, writing prompts and more.

    Grades: 8 to 12