Mobile Motivation: 17 Digital Storytelling & Literacy Apps/Resources for Kids

Part of the Cool Sites series

I teach young English language learners between 5 to 10 years-old. I have found my Iphone as one of the best tools to help improve their English and motivate them to speak English outside the classroom! We do so much with my Iphone such as search for images to explain words they don’t know, search for information, create videos of our favorite songs and games, record ourselves speaking English, and learn English through various apps!
However, these apps are not specific to English language learners. These apps help kids to read, create digital stories, interact with reading materials, improve their reading skills, increase their vocabulary, improve their grammar, and reproduce the knowledge they have learned. These apps involve kids in the story so they have fun while reading! For my young learners this is especially important because they often struggle with the reading vocabulary and meaning, since they are acquiring the language. Reading books in English can be very stressful for them. We still read aloud with various visual and support materials but when possible we also listen to stories on my Iphone! My kids never get to create or read stories with an iPhone except for in my class so this is a real treat.

Free Apps for Kids

These are some of the great free apps we will be trying this year to get them creating their own stories, listening to stories, increasing their reading skills, and improving their English proficiency. These are available on the Ipod Touch and Ipad as well but may not be free on those platforms.

  • Talking Tom– Kids talk to Tom and he repeats everything said with a funny voice, pet him to make him purr, pour a glass of milk for him, and poke his head, belly or feet, grab his tail. The best part is that within seconds what the students say to Tom is recorded as an avi video which can be uploaded to YouTube and Facebook or sent by email. This app really gets young learners speaking English!
  • StoryKit– Create an electronic storybook by drawing on the screen, uploading images, recording sound effects and voice, laying out the elements of the story (text boxes, images, and sound clips) freely by dragging them or pinching to resize, reordering pages, and uploading to the StoryKit web server. Email a link to the story. The application includes four public domain children’s books to rewrite and rearrange into a new story.
  • Fotobabble– Quickly create and easily share talking photos in 3 steps (Snap or select or a photo, speak into the microphone to record audio, share with friends via email, Facebook or Twitter).
  • StoryCorps-Listen to the weekly story; share stories via email, Facebook, and Twitter; get tips for recording stories on mobile devices; create and email a list of questions for an interview with StoryCorps.
  • Read Me Stories- Children’s books– A new talking picture book everyday teaches children new concepts, new words and how to say them. Free limited time trial. Keeps track of favorite books to read again and purchase from
  • K12 Timed Reading Practice Lite– 25 short, engaging stories for K-4 readers, variety of fiction and non-fiction, 10 Flesh-Kincade reading levels, view recommendations for moving up or down in reading difficulty based on recorded Words per Minute scores, and track one reader’s stories read, words per minute, percent above or below average reading rates, and what’s next on the reading list.
  • Library Of Congress – Virtual Tour for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad– Includes highlights of exhibitions and architectural features, with photos, audio by curators and other experts, links to more detailed online exhibitions, and even a video about the history of Thomas Jefferson’s Library.
  • Puppet Animation Lite– Kids animate uploaded images or sample puppets; animate them by choosing swing, elastic, or scaling; save as an animated gif to send via email or Twitter.
  • Kids Apps: 13 in 1– 13 different applications ranging from math games, over 600 flash cards, interactive tracing drills, ABCs, counting, vocabulary, number and letter tracing, Math Whiz quiz, music instruments vocabulary, house words and pictures, and more.
  • Animoto– Upload images, choose a soundtrack from the library, and click a button to make a 30-second video. Sync your videos with your account, download videos for offline viewing, and make longer ones with an All-Access Pass.
  • Chicktionary Lite– The chickens head bobs and clucks when kids use one of their letters to make a word. The “beak sneak” option fills in one letter from each of the words not yet found. Has 12 levels.
  • Tales2Go– Free for 30 days. Instant, on-demand and unlimited access to over 1,200 stories from leading audio publishers and storytellers.

Free Apps for Kids

Here’s a student interview about using mobile devices for learning:


Try these apps with your students and blog about any exciting ways you use them!

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