Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Give Your Kids’ Imagination Wings

 Guest Post by Natalie Butler of GAS

Storybird, a free online collaborative storytelling service, is an ideal way for parents, children and teachers to celebrate both EU Talent Day and National Gifted Education Awareness Day.

It’s free, social, fun, safe, interactive and very easy to use. With Storybird, any child can be a published author. Here’s a quick tour explaining the basics.

It’s great for parents to play with at home with their kids, but it lends itself equally to use in schools, and has its own area for teachers, with three brief tutorials to add and manage students, classes and assignments. Storybird can be used to create individual or class/whole school projects and libraries.

And it suits all levels - kids who can’t yet read or write can dictate their stories through fellow students, parents and teachers.

Storybird has no chat function or personal profiles, and administrators moderate all public books and comments, so it’s secure.

Storybird can also help foster teacher-student relationships, and parent-teacher communication, which can only be a good thing!

Once signed up for an account, users create a storybird by selecting artwork from an enormous library, dragging and dropping it on to a page, and then writing their own words. You can search artwork by theme, or choose to work with a particular artist. Changing artwork, and editing words and pages, is simple.

Once finished, you have the option of sharing the finished product either privately or publicly online.

Making, sharing, reading and commenting on storybirds online is free. Stories can be viewed on your computer screen, emailed to family, friends or teachers, shared globally through a worldwide library, or printed (for a small fee). Users are encouraged to share their own stories, and to read and comment on other people’s storybirds.

It’s designed to be a collaborative tool to connect people and encourage them to take turns to create stories together, but each child can work independently if preferred. Co-authors can be sitting right beside each other, or at opposite ends of the globe. And there’s no age limit to participation (here’s one I co-wrote with my 7-year-old daughter).

You can purchase PDF downloads of your books the moment they're published. They cost US$1.99 and can be printed at home, displayed on devices like the iPad, and used to create an offline back-up/archive of your stories.

The Storybird team tell me: “We hope to release ‘personal uploads’ later this year. We're currently working on our voice prototype. By late summer we'll have the feature in open beta.” So pretty soon kids will be able to use their own illustrations and narrate their own storybirds!

Future plans include an iPad app, a bigger class/school footprint, a shop featuring handpicked stories and art, and more artists.

As the Storybird website says: ‘Our goal is to be an advocate for the imagination.’


  1. This.is.totally.COOL. A simple interface that has virtually NO learning curve so all a pupil has to do is bring their creativity - which doesn't get lost in the technical details (cos there's hardly any). It's simple to use and the possibilities are limited only by imagination and creativity. And we know talented children have buckets of those. Well done on this find and an interesting post.

  2. It is on hiatus for the summer, but I can't wait to play around with this site when school starts. Looks really fun.