A few months ago I was at a Starbucks and picked up one of those cards to get a free app download. The app seemed to be some sort of child’s drawing tool, and since my daughter already loves DoodleBuddy, I thought, hey, it’s free, why not. Sure enough, my 4-year-old (excuse me, she’s “four and a half,” as she’d correct me) loved Sago Mini Doodlecast from the start. As I listened to/watched her explore the app, it occurred to me what a brilliant tool it was for digital storytelling in the world language classroom. In fact, it’s my new favorite app for digital storytelling. It’ll cost you $2.99, but it’s worth it. It has everything you could want in such an app: lots of options for visuals, various language interfaces, and most importantly, audio recording.
To start, from a parent’s perspective, I really appreciate that to enter the “For Parents” section of the app, you have to follow directions to touch the screen a certain way. With my little one it’s been an effective parent control.
Within your app settings on your iOS device, you can change several settings, including turning the parental control on or off, limiting videos to 10 minutes (Zoe takes so long to tell a story she’d fill up her iPod in a few stories) and limit the gallery to 20 items (the app will delete the oldest video after 20).
Also, you can change the app’s interface language. And I mean REALLY change the language. Like to Suomi. (Yeah, that’s Finnish for… Finnish.)
Back to the app. If you’re feeling creative, just start with a blank page and draw. While you draw, the app records your narration and shows you how long your video will be.
If you’re not feeling so creative, you can draw from one of several prompts that the app offers. What’s in the grocery cart? What’s something that’s big? What’s something that’s loud? Zoe likes these best.
Or, make your own “prompt”: snap a photo and draw/narrate a story from there. I did one using a photo of the Champ the Lion Stuffie my toddler got for Christmas.
When you’re done, play back the video from the app. At the end, the little cat claps for you (Zoe thinks this is cool).
If you want to share your video (or your students share with you), save the story to your video gallery and then upload to YouTube. (The video usually ends up too large to email.)
Zoe’s in that bilingual kid stage where she really prefers to speak English and I have to cajole her to speak Spanish, but she graciously recorded a story for you to illustrate that this thing is so easy a preschooler can do it.