This is the 22nd post in the “30 days to using the best of the web’s free tools for educators” series. Be sure to subscribe to the Teacher Challenge blog by RSS, like us on facebook, and follow us on twitter to keep up with future challenge posts as they are published.
This guest post was written by ed tech specialist Katy Scott.
In this activity you will
- Get ideas for using Little Bird Tales in the classroom.
- Create a teacher account on Little Bird Tales.
- Create a sample Little Bird Tale.
- Add your students to your Little Bird Tales account.
Little Bird Tales has quickly become my new favorite web 2.0 tool, mostly because it’s incredibly easy to create a high-quality digital story. The site allows users to create narrated slideshows, using their own photos or illustrations and their own voices.
Here’s a sample:
As its name suggests, Little Bird Tales targets young users, and its interface is easy for even 1st-graders to use without much assistance. I’ve seen 3- and 4-year-olds create Tales as well, but they need a little extra help. Still, older students can quickly and easily create some great products on the site (provided they can get over the somewhat babyish name).
Step 1: Create an account.
Go to the Little Bird Tales website, click “create an account,” and complete the form. Be sure to check “This is a teacher account.” When you check it, you’ll be asked to create a 4-digit school code (or select your school, if it’s already registered on the site).
Step 2: Decide how you’ll use Little Bird Tales in your class.
You’re going to want to create a Tale that you can use as a sample in your classroom. So decide how you’d like students to use Little Bird Tales – it’s a great tool for publishing writing or creating class presentations. When I first used the site, I wanted PreK-2 students to create a class presentation about a science project.
If you want students to publish their writing using Little Bird Tales, decide whether they will create illustrations on paper and then take pictures of them OR create illustrations using the website’s embedded drawing tool, “Art Pad.”
If you want students to create a presentation on something like a science experiment, you’ll probably want them to take photos of the actual science experiment. (See the ‘Tips’ section below for more on this.)
Once you’ve decided what you want your students to do, make any necessary preparations for your own sample (i.e., draw illustrations on paper and photograph them OR take pictures of your own sample science experiment).
Step 3: Create a sample Tale.
- Ensure you’re logged into Little Bird Tales, and click “create a tale” in the top left corner. First, you’ll create a cover.
- Type in the title and author of your tale.
- You can choose to upload a photo or draw a picture using the Art Pad.
- If you want to record your voice reading the title, click “allow” under “record settings.” Then, follow the on-screen directions to record your voice.
- When you’re done, click “save and continue.”
- Repeat the same steps for each page of your Little Bird Tale. If you’d like, you can also add text to each page, to make your Tale more like a digital storybook.
- When you’re done, click “Preview.” On the preview page, click “get story codes” to get the url (or embed code) to share your story with others.
Step 4: Add your students to your Little Bird Tale account.
- When you’re signed into Little Bird Tales, click “Home” (or the birdhouse in the top left corner).
- Click “Manage Classes.”
- At the top of the screen, click “Add a Class,” type the name of your class (i.e., Period 1, 2011), and click “save.”
- The class name will appear in a table on the screen. Click on the class name to get to the class details.
- By default, students cannot make their Tales public or share their Tales via e-mail. If you want to give your students this privilege, you can click the appropriate permissions boxes.
- Click “Add student,” type the student’s name, and click “add.” Repeat until all your students are added to your class.
- By default, Little Bird Tales gives students a username that is six numbers and the password “abc.” You can click on the “edit” link by each students’ name to change these details. When students login, they need to use their username, password, and school code.
Step 5: Have your students create their own Tales.
Show students your sample Little Bird Tale, and invite them to create their own. Give them a slip of paper with their username, password, and school code, and have them glue it into a notebook or folder where they can access it easily. (If they lose it, you can always look this information up on the website.)
Tips and Tricks
If you only have access to a few computers at a time OR if you’re working with pre-literate students who will need more help, make Little Bird Tales a center. Have students rotate through the center in small groups, and have an adult volunteer or older student at the center for one-on-one help.
If you don’t have any (or enough) cameras for your students to take photos to use with Little Bird Tales, have a cell phone drive at your school. Collect used cell phones from community members, and put them to use in your classroom for FREE. You can remove the SIM card from old, used smartphones so they can’t make calls or send texts. But the phones can still be used as cameras or to surf the web via wifi, all without any sort of data plan.
About the Author
I author a blog, titled Stretch Your Digital Dollar, which offers affordable solutions for integrating technology into all classrooms.
From 2003-2009, I taught in low-income schools in Phoenix and New Orleans. There, I experienced first-hand the need for technology integration and the obstacles preventing it. I now work with PreK-12 teachers and students as the education technology specialist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.