Five-Tool Literacy Apps for the iPad

If you are a baseball fan, you know what a five-tool player is. They can run, throw, play defense, hit, and hit for power. All-Stars such as Mike Trout, Ryan Braun, and Alex Rodriguez would be considered five-tool players.

So what are five-tool apps for the classroom iPad? They address the following five areas of literacy:

~ Reading ~ Writing ~ Conventions ~ Speaking ~ Listening ~

Here are five of my favorite five-tool literacy apps for the iPad in the elementary classroom, in order of complexity.


Toontastic by Launchpad Toys

This is an excellent primary-level app for learning about narrative elements. Students can set up scenes and act out the story. They control the character’s movements with their fingers and add dialogue by recording their voice. Their final products can be uploaded online so anyone can view their learning.


Drawing and Storytelling HD by Duck Duck Moose

In this three app bundle, you get Draw and Tell, Superhero Comic Book Maker, and Princess Fairy Tale Maker. Students can create scenes with a wide variety of characters, settings, and even onomatopoeias. These are words that suggest the sounds they make, such as “Whizz!” and “Ka-pow!”, which are commonplace in many comics. Even better, when you click on them, they make the sound. Learners can record their voice with each scene.


Educreations

This simple-to-use whiteboard and screencast app is perfect for introducing students to the concept of the flipped classroom. Their motto is “Teach anything to anyone from anywhere.” Using the drawing, audio recording and image capturing tools, learner can summarize a math lesson or create a book trailer. While the website boasts its use at the secondary level, I have seen it integrated in classrooms as young as 1st grade.


Book Creator by Red Jumper Studios

Students become authors with this app. After inserting images, text, drawings, and audio recordings, they can print their final products out as PDFs. Also, students can save their eBooks in the iBooks app. They stand alongside any other professionally published text. Classrooms can create digital libraries on their iPads for literacy centers. As well, teachers can upload students’ work to YouTube so anyone can see and listen to what they created. Check out my son’s eBook on how he deals with asthma.


Explain Everything by MorrisCooke

The best way to describe this app is a more complex version of Educreations. You can embed video, images, files from Dropbox or Google Drive, and put everything together into one coherent presentation. A student can also use a laser pointer to call attention to a specific slide during their instruction. The final product is then exported to a variety of locations, from the aforementioned servers as well as Evernote and iBooks. Definitely for the older crowd. Here is a screencast I created with Explain Everything for my book Digital Student Portfolios:

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is a 17-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th grade teacher. After seven years of teaching, he served as a dean of students, assistant principal and athletic director before becoming an elementary principal in Wisconsin Rapids. Matt is now an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District (http://mineralpointschools.org/). Matt tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

5 thoughts on “Five-Tool Literacy Apps for the iPad”

  1. Thanks for this Matt. I have used both Toontastic and Bookcreator and didn’t find either particularly suited my needs atthe time so didn’t persist with them. I must try them again and will check out your other suggestions. It’s always good to have a recommendation before purchasing as apps can vary a lot in quality. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

    1. These apps continue to be improved by the developers. Smart of you Norah to consider revisiting them. For example, Educreations now allows users to save drafts of their screencasts, instead of only being able to publish them.

      Liked by 1 person

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