Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” One powerful way that we can deeply involve our students in the process of learning is through the act of digital storytelling. When students harness the power of the digital world to tell stories, they become deeply involved in their learning and empowered as thinkers. In today’s post we are going to look at an iOS app which makes the art of digital storytelling simple for students and teachers. Shadow Puppet EDU is a free video creation app for schools which allows students and teachers to easily assemble digital stories. The digital stories created with Shadow Puppet can be saved as a video on the iPad or shared in a variety of ways. Let’s take a look at how to get started with this app.

How to Get Started

  • To get started, download Shadow Puppet EDU from the app store – Click Here
  • Once you open the app, a quick tutorial will play showing the basics steps to get started. Tap Next to go through the introduction.
  • Select Create New to begin

create shadow puppet

  • Begin selecting photos from the sources on the left. The image search options on the left include a variety of sources including Creative Commons photos, backgrounds, and photos already on the iPad. Once images are selected the can be reordered. Select Next to move on to the next step.

image select shadow puppet

  • Crop the images used for the story by pinching and zooming the screen to fit the images as desired. Add text and music to the slides and slideshow. Press the Mic to mute the mic for your presentation. Once the presentation is ready, press Start.

begin recording shadowpuppet

  • As you are recording the presentation, everything you say will be captured by the microphone in time with each photo. As you press the arrow to advance, your audio will be tied to each photo. Additionally, the tool bar on the left, provides some fun tools to use as pointers during the presentation. Once complete, press Save to finish up.

recording tools shadow puppet

  • After you press Save, the sharing options available will be presented. If you would like to save to the Camera Roll of the iPad, press done and it will go back to the home screen of the app.

preview and share shadow puppet

  • Save to the camera roll and other features are available by selecting the project from the home screen of the app. In the top right are additional options for your story. From this menu you can access the sharing features again, save to the camera roll, re-record, and delete the project. At this point, you are finished with your story. It can be viewed in the app or in the places where you have shared the video.

story options shadow puppet

Suggested Uses

  • Create a commercial to persuade viewers to buy a product
  • Find and share angles or geometric shapes and explain them
  • Journal experiences on a topic or science experiment
  • Create a project about a historical figure or time in history
  • Use the Met Museum of Art to present artwork from different time periods and genres
  • Create vocabulary cards with accompanying images

Why it Matters (Teacher Rubric)

Digital storytelling applications are a great way for teachers to design multiple assessments that can be aligned to learning outcomes. Many times these projects turn out to be great summative assessments based on the time and scope involved in creating them. Apps such as Shadow Puppet can be used by the teacher to differentiate instruction for students and provide varying means to deliver instruction. (Multiple Assessments Aligned to Goals and Learning Outcomes 1.3, Presenting Instructional Content 2.2)

Additional Resources

While this app is designed for the iPad, there are many other similar tools which can be used on a desktop computer.

The University of Houston College of Education has a website about Digital Storytelling which contains a number of resources for the classroom. The makers of Shadow Puppet have also created some great resources complete with lesson ideas and printable masters for storyboarding, image search help, and digital storytelling resources.

Your Challenge

Take a look at Shadow Puppet EDU and consider how you might use digital storytelling in the classroom. What project ideas begin to surface as you think about empowering your students to tell stories using digital tools? Are there units or concepts that would lend themselves to digital storytelling? What kind of assessments would be possible with an app like this?

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  1. I haven’t thought about using digital story telling in information literacy instruction, and I am a little stumped. It could be used as another method to engage students on a one to one basis when face to face instruction is not available. It may be best used in working with students in understanding what the desired outcome for the research riddle project is. That may be the best one to use in investigating the possibilities of digital storytelling.

    • Thank you for your comment. Another thought is that you could use the app to tell your story digitally. You could create a video with this app to share with your students to teach a concept or idea to them. It could work both ways as a student tool or a teacher tool!

  2. The quotation from Benjamin Franklin on the introductory slide sums it up best, tell and they may remember (probably not though) but involve them and they learn and most of all the learn so that they can apply what they’ve learned in the future. The sample video after downloading the application is a Pigeon story which happens to be one of my son’s favorite books so I know for sure we will be using this at home to help him make his own cartoon/ book of “Don’t Let the Pigeon…”

    Digital storytelling is something we have used in various from in the Academy since we began. The way that we differentiate in our high ability classes is through product choice. Students are often allowed to select the medium to display their understanding and mastery of a concept in a way that best fits them. What I liked best about Shadow Puppets is that it works across ability levels. The demonstration videos stow a young elementary school student while another one demonstrates a more involved science lesson. The learning curve is pretty small and giving students another option for learning and presenting material helps everyone. I just made one 2 minutes ago and showed it to my teaching partner and have come up with 10 ways that we can use this starting next week. This is a keeper for us.

  3. Part of the ECA test is to look at a graph and be able to describe what is happening at a certain time of the graph. I like the ability to use digital storytelling for my students to create a story and then the rest of the class be able to draw the graph from it. A student can tell about a long car ride on the way to vacation then let the students graph the story being told.

  4. My teaching partner and I have included digital storytelling in our classrooms through projects designed to introduce students to the class and create PSA’s and advertisements. While we aren’t 1:1 with iPads, we can offer Shadow Puppet EDU to students as a possible way of creating their projects and sharing them with the class.

  5. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing. There are SO many great ideas coming from this challenge, it’s difficult to choose. I’d love to pick a few to try! Hmmm. Which ones?

    • Thank you for participating. How would you use digital storytelling or a tool like ShadowPuppet in the classroom?

      • I wish I had iPads in my classroom. I use my personal one, and I could see using ShadowPuppet in a variety of ways. In the past, I have used Toontastic with students and they were able to partner up to complete stories. They loved the animation and recording potions. I could see students using this in the same way including simple research projects or commercials.

  6. This looks like an amazing tool! I can definitely see my students using this in many ways in my Science and Social Studies classes. The first thing I have coming up is the Revolutionary War and this would be a great tool to use to have the students focus on retelling the details of the causes of the war and the battles of the war itself. They could easily choose primary source documents/pictures to use to help create their digital stories. In Science, this would be so useful in creating digital science journals to chart progress for a Science fair project, a time lapse type project of animal or plant growth, or for me to create a digital presentation of a lesson or experiment. I’m excited to get started with this and I am so thankful that my district is 1:1 iPads.

  7. I can see students illustrating their own story, taking a picture of it with the iPad, uploading that to the app, and then telling their story with their own words and voice. I can see older students using this as a book trailer to introduce a book or show what they learned in a chapter or book. I can also see using this as a vocabulary introduction/review. Find pictures that represent the vocabulary or have students draw pictures that represent the word. Then they can talk about the vocabulary word putting it into a sentence or story. Students and teachers could then use that for review or to introduce for the next year’s class.

  8. I love the idea of allowing our kids to choose which app/tool/strategy that best represents their learning and presentation styles. I am shifting the PD in my building this year toward focusing on the skill (AKA digital storytelling) as opposed to the tool (Shadow Puppet). Once the T’s and S’s understand that the skill is the important part, it becomes easier to allow students some freedom in selecting the tool. I am excited to introduce this as an option.

    • I agree and appreciate your commnets. While we are presenting a lot of tools throughout the 30 Day Challenge, you are right that the skill is really the most important part. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I think this would be a wonderful tool for almost any grade level! I could see using it in almost subject. We now have a iPad lab at school and I can see the children using this storytelling app. It would be a great tool for teachers too to present a lesson. I will definitely tell the teachers at our school about this app.

  10. I do a commercial study around Super Bowl regarding prices, time slots, length of commercials in comparison to other days with a similar ran commercial. Afterwards, students could create a brief commercial and price it out. But the drawback is the iPad, we are 1:1 but not iPad 1:1.

  11. I had not heard of Shadow Puppet EDU but was excited to learn about it. I downloaded the app and signed up for the teacher premium membership. I was impressed to see that they offered a free premium membership for teachers. I think this could be an easy way for students to make a video or recording. We just got a new iPad lab at my school and I think using something like Shadow Puppet on those iPads would be great for the students. As a teacher making videos, I do think that it only being an iOS app is a little inconvenient. I have an iPad, but my phone is an android. So, in order to use videos or pictures that I have taken, I either have to take those pictures with my iPad or transfer them from my computer to my iPad. I would really like to see Shadow Puppet branch out to an android app and a website.

  12. I co-teach with a math class that does enrichment projects each quarter. Posters only go so far and letting students show their understanding of the concept like this can be quick and easy. They can import example pictures or illustrations of real world geometric figures demonstrating the use of formulas and concept mastery. Yes the drawback to it is that it’s only an iPad app which not everyone has but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good tool. It reminds me of another app called Explain Everything and Educreations.

    • Great ideas and you’re right there are some similarities with Explain Everything and Educreations. As far as the app goes, Shadow Puppet is just one of many storytelling apps. I would encourage you to also look at the additional resources of the post to see just a small collection of other programs that would allow you engage in digital storytelling.

      • Thanks for reminding me to check out the other links! I think that PowToon has some great potential too which I’ll dive deeper into now that I’ve created an account with them. It appears to be very user friendly and entertaining.

  13. Digital storytelling is a great way to help students understand history, it helps them to feel a part or have a better understanding of the experience or event. I have used storytelling, not necessarily through digital means in each of my Social Studies classes when describing events. I could see using an app similar to this to have students to tell a story as if they were living during the American Revolution, Ancient Rome or Egypt, or as a slave during and after the Civil War. It could really add meaning to how life was like for people of that time and help them to gain better insight into the period of history we are studying.

  14. What project ideas begin to surface as you think about empowering your students to tell stories using digital tools?
    I teach business law, I could have the students create a digital story that takes a client through the process of alternative dispute resolution. They could create a story that explained the key players in the courtroom. They could also use this tool to demonstrate how a person moves through the justice system. My web design students could take screenshots of websites and explain the design principles. They would discuss each principal and use the screenshot as an example. They could take a screenshot of a web site and use this tool to audio record their evaluation of the site’s design. This would allow me to assess what they know about good and bad design.

  15. I see a myriad of possibilities using Shadow Puppet. Unfortunately, I don’t have an iPad nor an iPhone. I have android devices. However, I will certainly pass this along to colleagues who do have the tools to use this platform with. It is a great idea and has so many possible creative outlets for content to be displayed.

    • I would definitely consider some of the other resources mentioned in the Additional Resources section of the post. I understand that the specific tool is an iOS only app but we want to not only present a tool but also a concept like digital storytelling as well. How might you use digital storytelling in your classroom?

  16. I’ve been thinking about adding another multimedia component to my journalism class. I was going to use Soundslides to have the students tell a story through pictures, audio, and narration, but the program is rather complicated. I will consider this app instead if they release a PC and/or Android version. I think it could replace Soundslides while still providing most of the same tools. I’ve tried Photo Story; it wasn’t too impressive. Windows Movie Maker and the basic Mac video editing software are both pretty good, too.

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