Thing 4: Digital Storytelling


Our scissors are now digital
CC by pollyalida

Our next topic is Digital Storytelling. In the past this topic was combined with Presentation Tools, since the two topics are so intertwined. After all, giving an effective presentation is really all about good storytelling. But the lessons were getting far too long and there are so many great tools to explore, so this gives you a chance to do 2 separate lessons instead of cramming it all into 1 lesson.  Keep in mind that there’s still lots of overlap in the tools in these two lessons.

For a great introduction to why storytelling is important, check out this excellent and quick read: 6 Reasons You Should Be Doing Digital Storytelling with Your Students

HELP! There’s a lot of information on this lesson page. Don’t let it intimidate you! Look at a few examples and play with a couple of the tools. You don’t have to look at every tool and resource listed. We just wanted to provide a wide variety of resources to meet all interests.

TIP: To test out multiple tools in a hurry, gather together 5-10 of your own photos and use them over and over. That way you can focus on how the tools work, rather than worrying about the perfect photos and the perfect storyline.


Some of the more popular tools with examples and ideas that can be used at a variety of grade levels and for a range of purposes.

Photo Based

  • Photopeach – Similar to Animoto, upload photos, add text and music. Can also include quizzes inside the video. Examples: Opposites – present a class assignment. Identify the Places incorporates a simple quiz
  • VoiceThread – Add photos, scanned drawings. Record audio with microphone or ‘phone it in’. Others can leave comments via text and audio. Use for student book reviews with their own drawings and narration. Student created stories with photos or drawings. Narrated slide shows of community events. Book talks. (Note: VoiceThread no longer has any free options.) Examples: North Platte Canteen – VoiceThread using photos, music, voice. Twilight – Carolyn Brook presents a book trailer with VoiceThread

Visual Storytelling – Photos, Text & More

  • Exposure, Steller, Adobe Spark These tools provide templates and design options to help you easily create beautifully laid out stories with photos and text.
    Use these for student presentations, creative writing, photo stories, newsletters and more.

    • Exposure is web-based with 3 free stories. Stellar is iOS only. Adobe Spark works on the web and
    • Examples:
      • BGS Teacher Talk – A newsletter created with Adobe Slate by @bgsteachbetter
      • The Garden – My test of Slate. Easy to search for photos within the tool and it automatically credits the photos at the end
  • Microsoft Sway – Microsoft’s entry into the digital publishing/viusal storytelling realm. “Create and share interactive reports, presentations, personal stories, and more.” Lots of options, a little bit daunting at first. Start from scratch or import from PowerPoint, Word or PDF. Create on the Web, Windows 10 and iOS. Probably not for elementary school students.

Explainer Tools


Special Purpose

A few more examples

Tools, tips and Resources


Finding Media: Searching for photos and music can take a lot of work, especially if you’re preparing an important presentation and are looking for just the right image to convey your message. Listed below are some tools to help you find media for presentations. The best way to find photos you can legally reuse, is to search for Creative Commons licensed images. Some image search tools have a way to limit your search to CC licensed content.

  • IMPORTANT: Check for licensing terms of any photo you download. You’ll need to keep track of where you got the photo to give it proper credit.

Image search tools:

  • LibreStock – a meta search engine for 47 sites that have CC0 licensed images.
  • Pixabay – My first stop for photo searching. All images are CC0 licensed, free to use.
  • PhotoPin – Very easy to use and searches a number of sources for CC licensed photos.
  • CC search – search for images, video and music from one search page. Handy!
  • Flickr advanced search – Under the “any license” dropdown, select the Creative Commons setting.
  • Copyright Friendly Images – a list of resources from Joyce Valenza
  • NYPL Public Domain Collection – Over 180,000 digitized items now in the public domain. Great resource!

Music & Sounds:


This learning activity is easy, fun and very flexible!

Basic AND Advanced Activity!

  • Step 1: Pick a tool, any tool and create a photo-video show, a story, an animated cartoon or whatever you’d like to share with us. Or pick an idea from the More Ideas list below.
  • Step 2: Write a blog post about the tools you explored, how you might use them in your library and school, share other ideas and thought.
  • Step 3: Link to your project: either post a link to your project in the blog post OR embed it in the blog post if the tool you chose has that feature available.


  • Write & publish your blog post.
  • Copy the URL for the post.
  • Return to the lesson page on the CanvasLMS site.
  • Use the SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT button in the CanvasLMS page and paste in your URL.

*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Canavas LMS system.

More Ideas to Explore

  • Pick an iPad or Android presentation/storytelling app to explore.
  • Brainstorm an idea for using tools with your students.
  • Search for some lesson plans/ideas that you might use as inspiration. Discuss how you might implement them.
  • Or any other creative project that involves storytelling/presentation tools.






10 thoughts on “Thing 4: Digital Storytelling

  1. Hi,

    I was doing some research when I came across your very helpful website (and this page in particular). The list is great, and you did a wonderful job putting it together!

    I might just recommend another tool to be added to the list. It’s called Animatron ( It’s great for teaching and learning with animation since it allows working right in the browser; there is no need to download or install anything. In fact, it’s the only collaborative animation & video maker in the world that allows a few people to work on a project in real time together, and this is super important when making an explainer video, or when you want to collaborate with your student and teacher colleagues on the same project. There are hundreds of pre-animated characters and props one can use to start animating in minutes, completely online.

    There are actually a great number of features available for free, and we hope more educators will learn about the software.

    Here’s what Larry Ferlazzo says about Animatron:

    And here’s a review by Richard Byrne:

    I will be thrilled if you decide to tell your readers about Animatron. Please let me know if I can provide any further information to make the process easier.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Best regards,
    Anastasia Melet
    Communications Manager
    “Animation for the Rest of Us”

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