Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tiny Tap App for Digital Storytelling...Or Flipped Teaching

Update 3/7/2014: I just updated the app and I was very happy to see they added a "Jump" option to the Sound Board activity! This allows you to make a region of the screen a sound AND a link to a new page. Story lines can now branch, making for "choose your own adventure" style, interactive fiction. This was the feature I was waiting for, so multiply the positive of this original post by at least five!

Tiny Tap is a free app for iPad that allows the user to create very simple games. I installed it at least a year ago and used it with a few young children, including first graders. Recently I discovered newer features that could make it excellent for digital storytelling or maybe even flipped teaching or blended learning.

The primary activity in the games is to tap the correct part of the picture. You can record an audio prompt, such as, "Tap Grandma's picture." When the user taps Grandma a success sound is played and a balloon rises on the screen. I have found students enjoy playing the simple activities.  As soon as I show them how to make them, they immediately want to make their own questions by choosing the "answer area" on their pictures.

At some point the app was updated and I noticed it had a few more bells and whistles. One time when I tried to show someone how to use it, I ran into trouble with getting the imported picture to "stick". I didn't have time to figure it out and I didn't come back to it for many months.

But this week at the family Thanksgiving dinner I decided I'd show it to my nephew. He is in kindergarten now, so I was curious if the app would be simple enough for him to make a game. (I knew he'd be able to play one I made, but I was hoping to encourage some creativity rather than just another gaming experience.)

I learned that with a little assistance he picked it up quickly. I also discovered they added two other types of activities. Now instead of every page being a guessing game, there is also:

  • Sound Board - A picture is displayed and you can enclose areas that are "buttons". For each one, you can record narration or a sound.
  • Say Something - This allows you to add narration to a page.
By using Say Something, the app becomes a very nice tool for telling a story involving pictures and narration. 

It is easy to import the pictures. (I learned that to stick the picture in place after importing it from the camera or Camera Roll you have to double tap it and choose "Stick".) Once imported, they can be resized and arranged. There are a few simple art tools to write or draw on the page.

Next, you can add one of the activities. Once I showed my nephew how to add a question he was excited. He made a few pages with ease. There are a few steps, so I had to remind him where to click the first few times.

I love the potential for a narrated story that has guessing activities or a Sound Board in it. Imagine a story about a toy coming to life and hiding. The question pages would provide fun for the child to identify the hiding place, possibly based on carefully listening to the previous pages. The Sound Board pages offer a lot of room for creative uses, such as an exploration to gain clues by tapping different areas or just a "play area" where objects might make fun sounds.

Besides making simple lessons (flipped teaching or blended learning for lower elementary?) I imagine teachers could use this to teach procedures in the room at the start of a school year. Pictures and narration would explain things first, then question pages could quiz them.

If you make an account you can share the activities. This should allow you to load a creation on multiple devices. They also can be shared on Facebook too, so it could make a great end product parents and family could see from home.  (Sharing requires the user to "tap and hold", so it's unlikely a young user is going to share or access something without an adult's assistance.)

If you make any fun creations like these using Tiny Tap, I'd be glad to hear it! Please share as a comment or by email.

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