8 Free Apps for Creating Special Holiday Gifts

Part of the Cool Sites series

As a little girl, I made Christmas gifts for my father. He preferred them over bought gifts. Well, at least until I can afford box seats for the Dallas Cowboys games. Making gifts can be difficult for children who have to beg a parent to buy them the materials and disguise this so one parent does not find out. With their mobile devices and apps children, adolescents, and teens can create a very meaningful gift for a loved one. What I like about this idea are the apps are very easy to use, often free, and have various multimedia options. Many integrate images, audio, text and audio. The child can also easily send the message Christmas morning for the parent to wake up and see the gift. With so many families on the same phone plans the child will often have similar devices as their parents. If not, many of these apps have the ability for users to share their productions through online communities, e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter!

Creative Apps

These are some of the great free apps!  I’ll try to post in order of preference in considering the features, time requirement, and user-friendliness. These are available on the iPod Touch and iPad as well but may not be free on those platforms. Some of these may have Android and Blackberry equivalents.
StoryRobe– I love this free digital storytelling app. It’s incredibly easy for children to adults to create audio/visual stories on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Use the built in microphone, or any 3rd party microphone to create audio recordings with photos and videos. You have the option to upload to Youtube or send it through e-mail. If it’s in their e-mail, then the parents can easily e-mail their child’s production to their friends! You don’t need an Internet connection to create the stories, but you do to send them!

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). Fotobabble is really easy to use and free! It’s very similar to StoryRobe but doesn’t allow video. However, you do get various holiday themed backgrounds.

  • Idea– Create a visual holiday card!
  • Example– Here’s Rosco, my pug’s holiday card to you!

Animoto– Upload up to 10 images, choose a soundtrack from the library (many nice holiday tunes to choose from, and click a button to make a 30-second video. Sync your videos with your Animoto.com account, download videos for offline viewing, and make longer ones with an All-Access Pass.

  • Idea– Create a nice looking holiday video for your family or friends! The app doesn’t let you add text like the site does but you can always take pictures of text or signs if you’re out and about.
  • Example-My Christmas card!

  • Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

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, paint, 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.

  • Idea– Create the holiday story starring your friends and family with a special message!
  • Example– Here’s a quick Christmas story I made with Rosco! Click here to read it!

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.

  • Idea– Interview several friends that have great things to remember about another friend. You can also interview all your family members and collect memories about a grandparent or parent.
  • Example– Listen to this Christmas memory from World War II.

Audio Boo– Free app that allows you to record and upload audio for your friends, family or the rest of the world to hear through Facebook, Twitter, and email.

  • Idea– Share a poem, song, or story inspired by your loved one!
  • Example– Here’s a story about my father called, 2 Feet Tall Trophies! My father used to be a championship bowler!

Santa Hat Sewing is a brand new arts and crafts app that will lead you all the way to design and sew that perfect Santa Hat for your kids. This art and craft app has been specially designed for the kids to take an active role in making a Santa hat.The Santa Hat Sewing app will teach you and show you how to make a great one.

  • Idea– Create a Santa hat for a favorite doll or loved one with a cute title like Mrs. Claus!

Comic Touch Lite– Create a comic by adding various bubble captions to photos. The free version has the company logo.

  • Idea– Create a comic of your loved one as the hero!
  • Example– Below is Rosco’s example!

Rosco the pug
Try these apps with your students and blog about any exciting ways you use them! Or leave a link to a Christmas gift you want to share in the comments section!

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What apps do you love using to send your friends holiday cheers?

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